Monday, July 27, 2015

Olli Immonen: a racist dream

Anders Behring Breivik, the infamous Norwegian terrorist who went on a killing spree in Norway in the summer of 2011 circulated a manifesto online that bears similarities with a Facebook update posted by a young Finnish politician and member of parliament on Friday evening. Like Breivik the MP opposes multiculturalism, and uses explosive words - the kind of words used in other hateful manifestos, including manifestos posted online by people like Anders Breivik and Dylann Roof, the racist who killed nine African Americans in the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.

A second-term MP for the Finns Party, Olli Immonen, posted a status update on Facebook on 24 July 2015 in which he made no secret of his extreme-right views. In the status update, the MP whose link to the far-right is well-documented, called for a "fight" against "this nightmare called multiculturalism", and stated that the "ugly bubble" will soon "burst into a million little pieces." In the fiery post, the MP expressed "belief" in his "fellow fighters" and promised to "fight until the end...". He also mentions "enemies" but make no mention of who exactly the enemies are.

My view

Olli Immonen's statement amounts to incitement of hatred against minority cultural, ethnic and religious groups in Finland, and bears stark similarities to rants in dangerous manifestos posted online by mass murderers, including Anders Breivik and Dylann Roof - the so-called "white supremacist" who like Immonen created a us-against-them scenario and ranted online about his desire to "fight" against those perceived to be taking over his country.

In a 1500-paged manifesto, Anders Breivik of Norway strongly opposed multiculturalism, and stated that a multicultural society is "temporary", and that "sooner or later" there'll be a return to a new monocultural society - a stance Immonen seems to agree with. Like Breivik, Immonen beliefs that there's some kind of "war" going on, and that his "fellow fighters" (what Breivik referred to as "cultural conservative resistance fighters") - will "fight" to the very end.

Olli Immonen's distasteful Facebook post is a rallying call and call to arms for xenophobes, islamophobes and racists under the guise of patriotism. The statement is coined to sound like the young politician has a dream  - perhaps like Dr. Martin Luther King. But Immonen's dream is different; it's a racist dream; a dream that pitches Finnish culture and identity against other cultures and identities in the Nordic country.The gullible among his followers could heed the call, and Finland could see a spike in hate crimes as a results.

It's disturbing that it took more than 24 hours - as reported by Yle - for Prime Minister Juha Sipilä who formed a government with the party Olli Immonen represents to weigh in on the MP's scary remarks. Even more disturbing is the fact that the Finns Party's chairman, Timo Soini, is yet to comment on the controversy. The chairman's silence suggests an approval of the message -  an approval which would not be surprising.

Worthy to mention that this is not the first time Olli Immonen's views and conduct have raised concern. The 29-year-old, whose hobbies include shooting - according to his website, posed for a group photo in June 2015 with a group called the Finnish Resistance Movement at the grave of a Finnish nationalist who assassinated a Governor-General in 1904.

The Finns Party that Immonen represents in parliament is no stranger to controversies linked to racism and incitement of hatred. Although the party's leadership repeatedly claims, after each scandal, that outrageous statements by its MPs and Councillors do not represent the party's stance one thing is undeniable: birds of a feather flock together. And if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck.

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