A friend in Latvia just forwarded to me a most upsetting news story from a Finnish newspaper, about an anti-Muslim group in Finland calling itself "The Children of Odin." I equally regret their ignorant opposition to a people they seem to know nothing about but fear due to ill-informed but inflammatory stereotypes, and their usage of the name Odin, thus again tarring Norse Paganism with the old brush of Nazi-esque intolerance and thuggery. Notice that nothing bad has happened in this town as a result of the Muslim refugees' arrival, and yet a certain segment of the local people is already mobilizing anti-Muslim militias. I fear this is just the tip of the iceberg...
Here is the link, with the article copied below.
Friday's papers: "Soldiers of Odin" patrol Kemi streets, paper claims "100s of Muslim extremists in Turku," Finland to cut UNICEF funding by 75%
Friday’s newspapers wrote about a group that calls themselves the Soldiers of Odin who patrol the streets of Kemi to "increase people's feeling of security." One paper claims there are "several hundred" Muslim extremists in Turku. Government plans to cut funding to the UNICEF children's fund by 15 million euros.
Unicefin koulu Bekaan laaksossa Libanonissa
UNICEF worker and schoolgirl in undated picture taken in Lebanon. File photo. Image: Nabil Mounzer / EPA
Aamulehti posted a story Thursday about a group that started patrolling the streets of the northern town of Kemi.
The paper writes that starting a few days ago a group of dark-clothed men, who call themselves the Soldiers of Odin, were patrolling the streets of Kemi.
Aamulehti interviewed the patrol's organiser, Mika Ranta, who said the reason behind the patrols was to "increase people's feeling of security."
The paper asked Ranta why he started the group.
"We woke up to a situation where many different cultures met. It caused fear and concern in the community. We started to gather a bunch of people," the paper quoted Ranta saying.
"The biggest issue was when we learned from Facebook that new asylum seekers were peering through the gates of primary schools, looking at young girls," Ranta told Aamulehti.
There is an asylum seeker reception centre based in the northern town Kemi, a town just under 30 km from the border town of Tornio, where the majority of asylum seekers have been arriving to the country recently.
Ranta was quoted claiming that there are hundreds of Soldiers of Odin members across the country.
He said that while he describes himself as a National Socialist on his Facebook page, he claims his "opinions are his own" and that there are all kinds of people in the "family friendly" group.
Aamulehti also published a photo of some members of the group, which appears to consist mostly of men clad in dark nylon bomber jackets, many of which appear to be embroidered with an acronym of the group.
Most of the members did not consent to be photographed, and turned their backs for the snapshot. But the five members in the foreground who agreed to the photo were all listed as having Finnish names in the caption.
Finnish police told the paper that it does not recommend patrols or actions like these "under any circumstances."
TS claimed: "Hundreds of Muslim extremists in Turku"
A brief in Turku’s daily Turun Sanomat* made an unattributed and problematic claim that there are "several hundred" Muslim extremists living in the city.
The claims are unattributed to anyone but the articles' reporter, however there is no writer’s name attached to the piece. The photo attached to the article features Muslims praying at a Turku mosque, but was apparently photographed in 2009.
The first four paragraphs of the article claim that there are "several hundred Muslim extremists" in Turku and that "the number is growing all the time. They are deeply religious Muslims."
The following paragraph goes on to explain that these Muslims belong to the ultra-conservative Salafi movement of Islam, but gives no actual evidence backing up the statements.
"The group has a lot of supporters in Saudi Arabia, but now also in Turku," the paper wrote.
The article later quotes Åbo Akademi University's associate professor of religious studies Tuomas Martikainen explaining the history of arriving Muslims to the country. In his opinion their religious identities were strengthened as more Muslims arrived, and has led to conflicts within the Muslim community.
Martikainen does not, however, appear to defend or refute a claim that there is an increase in the number of Muslim extremists in the city.
*It has come to the attention of Yle News that the referenced Turun Sanomat article was published in August 2013, however the article remains in circulation on social media and a link to the article was featured on their current web pages.
Finland to cut UNICEF support by 75 percent
The Finnish government is proposing to cut funding toward the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, by about 15 million euros, Finland's biggest daily Helsingin Sanomat reports.
Next year the government proposes allocating some five to six million euros to the international children's fund, which amounts to a 75 percent decrease compared to past years, the paper writes.
"Finland has been the world's eighth largest donor of assistance to the UNICEF children's fund," UNICEF's programming and advocacy director in Finland Inka Hetemäki said.
"The cuts to aid will have dramatic consequences for the world’s children," the paper quoted her saying.
Additionally, the paper writes, the Foreign Ministry is also proposing international aid cuts of around 300 million euros - apart from the UNICEF funding.