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Home NATIONALViolence unacceptable in Finland: Halonen
Sun, 25 Sep, 2016 12:09:18 AM
Thousands say no to racism
FTimes – STT Report, Sep 25
People demonstrate against rasism and Fascism in Helsinki on Saturday, September 24, 2016. Photo – Lehtikuva.
Several thousands of people from different strata, including the prime minister, former president, leaders of different political parties, and leaders of trade and professional bodies, held separate anti-racism rallies in different parts of the country on Saturday.
Speakers at the rallies strongly protested violent activities by extremist groups and warned that such kind of activities would never be accepted in Finland.  
About 15,000 people participated in the main anti-racism demonstration ‘Peli Poikki’ (Stop this Game) in Helsinki.
The demonstration was aimed at breaking the silence that enables and fosters racism and violent right-wing extremism in the country.
Photo Lehtikuva.
The procession passed through Aleksanterinkatu to Senate Square with the demonstrators chanting “No to racism, no.” Similar demonstrations were staged in Tampere, Jyväskylä, Kuopio, and Joensuu.
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä participated in the ‘Emme suostu pelkäämään’ (we refuse being scared) demonstration in Kuopio.
“Violence should not be accepted in Finland and neither its threat should be condoned,” former president Tarja Halonen told the rally in Helsinki.
She described Finland, which is soon turning a hundred years, as active and cooperative as well as a county of solidarity.
Photo Lehtikuva.
“Many have settled in a hedgehog defence position, even though one should participate together with the group to resolve issues. I hope people will undertake to drive policies which maintain and create equality,” said Kati Peltola, a 75-year-old man who participated in the demonstration in Helsinki.
Extremism and racism have been the burning issues in the country during the recent period, particularly after the death of a man at the Helsinki Railway Station Square.
A passer-by was beaten up outside the Helsinki Central Railway Station where the Finnish Resistance Movement (SVL) was holding a demonstration on September 10. The victim succumbed to his injuries at the Helsinki Meilahti hospital on September 16. 
Many who arrived at the demonstration expressed their disapproval at violence.
“Tiptoeing has continued for too long. It has been known for a long time what extremist movements are and what they do,” said Johanna Rojola who participated in the demonstration with her husband Jaakko Seppänen and their five-year-old daughter.
Photo Lehtikuva.
Senior politicians such as Finance Minister and Chair of the Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party) Petteri Orpo, Interior Minister Paula Risikko, Chair of the Vihreä liitto (Green League) Ville Niinistö, and Chair of the Vasemmistoliitto (Left Alliance) Li Andersson were also present among others at the Helsinki rally.
Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue (Social Democratic Party of Finland-SDP) lawmakers Nasima Razmyar and Maria Guzenina were also present in the rally. 
They said the event was a good example of how many people want a racism-free Finland.
Guzenina compared the anti-racist demonstration at the Citizens Square with the counter-demonstration which attracted only a few dozen people. “This sends a clear and a peaceful message that our values and our Finland have a big significance,” said Guzenina.
Meanwhile, an anti-immigration protest was organised by the ‘Rajat kiinni’ (Close Borders) group in Helsinki.
Two people were arrested in the counter-demonstration for not obeying the police’s exit order. The two were caught for preventing possible crimes and disturbances to protection, said the police.
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