Social Democrat Party MP Tytti Tuppurainen says she is starting to get "a bit worried" about the direction Finnish society is taking, and doesn't want the country to get a reputation for intolerance like some other EU nations.
Tuppurainen makes the comments on today's episode of Newsmakers, HSTV's weekly English-language current affairs show.
"I'd like to say with my full heart, that Finland is an open society. A tolerant society. A Nordic country which welcomes everybody" says the Oulu MP. "But, I see things and hear that there's a tendency towards more extremist ideas. And that's very worrying" she adds.
"We don't want to be Hungary. We don't want to be like Slovakia" she says, both countries with a recent reputation for being unwelcoming to migrants. "No, that's not the Finnish way".
Tuppurainen's comments come in the wake of the death of 28 year old Jimi Joonas Karttunenhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=Jimi%20Joonas%20Karttunen, who died a week after being injured in an apparent confrontation with members of the neo-Nazi Finnish Resistance Movement, at a gathering outside the central railway station in Helsinki.
The suspect, Jesse Eppu Oskari Torniainenhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=Jesse%20Eppu%20Oskari%20Torniainen is due in court today, suspected of assault and grave involuntary manslaughter over Karttunen's death.
"It was a very tragic incident, something that should not have happened on the streets of Helsinki" says Tuppurainen, who added that she thinks the Finnish police should be more aware of radical extremist groups like the Finnish Resistance Movement.
In the days following Karttunen's death, senior politicians in Finland have spoken out about extremist groups. President Sauli Niinistöhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=Sauli%20Niinist%C3%B6 says existing legislation should be fully used to combat such organisations. Centre Party Prime Minister Juha Sipilähttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=Juha%20Sipil%C3%A4 says politicians should review whether groups that embrace violence are legal or not. And Interior Minister - and Kokoomus leader - Petteri Orpohttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=Petteri%20Orpo has called for a ban on all extremist organisations.
Meanwhile Foreign Minister - and Finns Party leader - Timo Soinihttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=Timo%20Soini has condemned the violence. But MP Tytti Tuppurainen says the Finns Party is guilty of stoking racist sentiment in Finland.
The Finns Party "offers some kind of a breeding ground for those racist and extremist ideas [...] and we should put an end to it" she says. "This is clearly time to say that now, Finland is not the type of a country that is hostile to foreigners and different people"
Tuppurainen said it was "very alarming" that the Finns Party was the second largest in the country, and also part of the coalition government with the Centre Party and Kokoomus. She says that she believes the Finns Party "nurtures the racist ideas".
"Timo Soini, the Foreign Minister, is now representing the whole of Finland in our foreign relations [...] He needs to take the responsibility and distance himself clearly from these racist opinions", although she adds that she does not think that Soini himself is a racist.
Also in today's episode of Newsmakers, Tuppurainen talks about the state of the Social Democrats, and says there are "many that expect our party to do better, especially now the government is so unpopular".
She wouldn't rule herself out of contention to challenge Antti Rinne http://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=Antti%20Rinneas party chair, but cautioned that changing the leader of the party was not a solution to the Social Democrats' problems.
"Within the Social Democratic Party in Finland we should put more emphasis on defending globalisation and the liberal open world that we have, at least, for now".
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