This text has been published in Finnish on Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s blog, and we think that it is important that it is shared in English, to include those who do not understand fully Finnish
During the last few weeks we have witnessed violent acts which are a great concern to many of us and which weaken our sense of safety. The police are now investigating incidents in both the Helsinki Station Square as well as in Otanmäki, Kajaani. On behalf of myself and the cabinet, our hearts are with the families at this difficult time.
I condemn violence, racism and hate speech of any kind. One should not support them or agree with them. At the same time, we must hold on to our rights for free assembly, free speech and the right to unionize.
The legitimacy of organizations encouraging violence were investigated in 2013, but the laws, however, remained unchanged. I wholeheartedly support interior minister Paula Risikko’s initiative for reassessment. Our world has changed—for that reason it is important that these matters are thoroughly and meticulously looked into. If necessary, the laws will be changed.
When it comes to hate speech and hate crime, we should additionally examine whether our current legislation is up to date in terms of intervention. Particularly online and in social media, where conversations often get out of hand. Even speech is an act.
The debate over immigration and asylum seekers continues as well and during the last few days the conversation has become more grim.
Polarization feeds an already intense climate. At the moment refugees who have been allowed to stay are in the process of integrating into our society. The rest is waiting for a decision at the reception centers.
For that reason we must now keep our heads cool while our hearts remain warm. Each of us should think about what we could do to ease the integration for those who escape conflict and persecution: learning the language, finding employment and settling into their daily routines. This is something that particularly us decision-makers should mull over. Additionally, we must make sure that the safety around the reception centers is guaranteed for everyone.
Polarization will not make Finland prosper. Instead, its increase will crumble our society. We must condemn hate speech and hateful acts. Feeling secure and respected is not something that can be taken away from you by another person. Human value is indivisible.