MINISTER of Economic Affairs Wille Rydman (PS) has repeatedly used racist expressions in private communications, reveal messages published on Thursday by Helsingin Sanomat.
The daily newspaper wrote that publishing excerpts of private communication between the lawmaker and his then-girlfriend is justified because they reflect the attitude of a current cabinet member with considerable political power toward minorities while already in politics.
The messages were sent in 2016. Rydman was at the time a 30-year-old member of the parliament with a seat at both the Administration Committee and Constitutional Law Committee.
He resigned from the National Coalition and joined the Finns Party in January 2023. Rydman replaced Vilhelm Junnila (PS) as the minister of economic affairs earlier this month after the latter stepped down amid controversy about repeated nods at fascist themes in his campaign and social media communication.
The couple did not have an amicable break-up, and the ex-girlfriend was one of the women who made accusations against Rydman in a story by Helsingin Sanomat in mid-2022. Police are presently looking into the story following a criminal complaint by Rydman.
His messages include unprompted derogatory and racist remarks about black people, Muslims and Somalis.
“But once you introduce the damned lily of the valley to this lot, you’ll find it everywhere because it spreads and reproduces like a Somali,” Rydman wrote during a discussion about what to plant in the flowerbed, according to Helsingin Sanomat.
In another message, he used the terms “ape” and “desert ape” to describe people from or with ethnic ties to the Middle East. He used the latter term later to voice his disgust with news about a celebrity, whose father is from the region, who was suspected of filming his sexual partners without their knowledge and sharing the footage with others.
When Rydman’s girlfriend wrote that Belgian employers could receive the right to prohibit the wearing of headscarves at the workplace, he replied: “I’d still rather ban people who wear scarves than the scarves.”
He also shared with his girlfriend alternative lyrics for the well-known Finnish schlager Sininen ja valkoinen. “I found a woman after all, raped her in the thicket,” the lyrics read.
The protagonist is a Muslim man.
Juho Eerola (PS) said to Helsingin Sanomat he wrote the lyrics, first in 2008 and adapted them in 2015 in response to the refugee crisis. Eerola added that he does not think it was inappropriate of him to share the lyrics with a fellow lawmaker while serving as the chairperson of the Administration Committee.
“We have artistic freedom, of course we can write [lyrics],” he retorted.
He served as a deputy speaker of the parliament in 2019–2023.
Rydman made references to fascism in the messages. When his girlfriend told him that, if she had a child, she would like to give it a Hebrew name, like Immanuel. “We Nazis don’t really like that kind of Jew stuff,” replied Rydman.
He also expressed his regret that Germany has allowed its Nazi monuments to dilapidate because they are “relics of an unpleasant past,” adding that Germans are “completely stupid” about their past.
The girlfriend said the repeated racist remarks began to feel normal as the relationship progressed, also affecting her own thinking and rhetoric.
Rydman declines to comment, Purra views ex is out to get Rydman
Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday reported that Rydman did not respond to its requests for comment. He did, though, publish the request online, declaring that he would not be commenting on the issue.
Minister of Finance Riikka Purra stated to Helsingin Sanomat that the messages are “inappropriate” but added that she has neither the ability nor the desire to comment on them due to their being part of private communication between a couple.
“A politician is a public person, but also they have a private circle. Based on the details that have been reported earlier, the other party has a clear intention to hurt in relation to Rydman,” she commented to the newspaper.
Purra, who is the chairperson of the Finns Party, published earlier yesterday a blog post in response to the ongoing racism debate surrounding the populist right-wing party.
“My party isn’t racist. Its goals on immigration – and everything else – aren’t racist. We don’t talk about conspiracy theories but about real problems caused by real immigration in this real society,” she wrote.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT