Concern about campaigning safety increases in Finland

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-26 06:52:14|Editor: Xiang Bo
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HELSINKI, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Concrete security of candidates for members of parliament has become an issue in the ongoing Finnish general election campaign, three weeks ahead of the public voting.

A candidate with immigrant background was attacked in eastern Helsinki by an ethnic Finn on Monday. On Sunday there was an attempt to attack politician Timo Soini, the foreign minister in the current care-taker cabinet.

Soini had professional security protection that foiled the attempt, but the basic level candidate had no such protection.

The assault on Suldaan Said Ahmeed, a candidate for the Left Alliance in Helsinki, was being investigated as a mild (or third degree) mugging and slander, Helsinki police said. The man hitting the candidate described the latter as "representing the wrong religion" and a pedophile.

Lieutenant Heikki Porola from the Helsinki police department told national broadcaster Yle that the atmosphere in political events became more aggressive in the whole country. "This tense atmosphere has prevailed for a longer time," Porola said.

Porola noted that the two incidents of recent days did not seem to be connected. "But they have features of behavior in common," he said. "I am not interpreting the actions as professional but some sort of targeting appears to be taking place," he said.

Several candidates interviewed by Yle said they had themselves sensed the change in the atmosphere in the streets and market places.

Laura Ylitalo, the manager of the Social Democratic Party's regional organization in Helsinki, told Yle the party had consulted also the security police.

Joonas Leppanen, the party secretary of the Left Alliance, said that the police must ensure that the parties can arrange campaign events in peace.

"Even though the parties disagree with each other, we have all committed to a democratic framework. This kind of attacking is an action against the democratic system," Leppanen said.

Yle reported that at least the SDP, the Green party and the Feminist Party had urged their candidates not to campaign alone, but at least two candidates together.

An election video of the Finns Party was questioned in the media on Monday as possibly admiring violence. In the video the frustration of the people appears as a monster rising from underground. The monster then attacks the decision makers who have "deceived the people".

Lauri Nurmi, a political analyst for the news agency Lannen Media, said the video of the Finns Party "steps over a threshold that no political party bearing the responsibility of maintaining the social peace should step over."

However, Jussi Halla-aho, chairman of Finns Party, on Monday dismissed the claims that the video instigates violence. The video was shown in a major cinema chain as pre-feature material. The cinema chain confirmed on Monday the film had passed their control.