By Ilya Kharlamov
Helena Eronen, an assistant to a deputy of the nationalist party of Finland “True Finns” has recommended in an article on the “New Finland “ site that foreigners in the country should be made to wear special identification badges on their sleeves. Although the article has since been deleted, it has already raised eyebrows and resonated throughout Finland. Human rights activists and experts have called for a detailed analysis of the surge in nationalist tendencies in the country.
Helena Eronen appears to have displayed concern about her country and fellow citizens. The police already have enough on their plate, and the wearing of a special badge would enable law enforcers to quickly identify the nationality of a suspicious person, who could be a criminal. In recent times, the authorities in Finland have turned more than usual attention to foreigners, who are regarded as potential law breakers.
The parliamentary deputy’s assistant approached the issue creatively. She suggested a systematization of sleeve badge symbols. It could be a crescent for Muslims, against the background of the colours of the wearer’s homeland; the hammer and sickle on a black-red background for Russians, and for Americans, the hamburger. All this could have been taken as a harmless joke, if the scandalous statement was not made by an official of the legislative branch of government.
Helena Eronen’s proposal is not nationalistic. It should be seen as a display of fascism, says Maxim Yoffe, chief of the Center of Legal Assistance “Moscow-Rossiane”.
Identifying people according to nationalities was a foundation of Nazism. Non-Arians displayed the appropriate signs. Jews were marked and forced to wear the star of David. The incident in Finland deserves the collective reaction of the rest of the world. The world public should condemn it and hold the offender to account. This is a deliberate instigation of nationalism. If the Finnish government is unable to bring its house to order, the international community should robustly react to sucha gross Nazi outpouring by people entrusted with the making of laws for the governance of society. The voicing of such a repulsive idea publicly at the highest level, is evidence of the policy of a government which opposes multiculturalism and a multi-national community not only in Finland, but also in other countries. This is unacceptable from any point of view, including legal, political and moral”, Maxim Yoffe said.
Helena Eronen put foreigners and gays in the same compartment. Gays should wear the sign of the rainbow on their sleeves. Political analysts wonder who will be next on the list. The scandal has drawn the ire of many people, but protesting is not enough to lessen its potential danger, says Vladimir Simidei, head of the “Historical Memorial Foundation’s” research programme.
“An attempt to separate people according to ethnic and racial background has been agitating the minds of the ultra rightwing bigots in contemporary Europe for a long time. The authorities in Finland should react to this appropriately. The Euro-parliament and human rights advocates, who have made members of special punk collective in Russia prisoners of conscience should equally say something definite on the matter”, said Vladimir Simidei.
The “True Fins” party became the third largest party in Finland after the parliamentary polls in 2011. It even has a representative in the EU parliament. Helena Eronen is an assistant to MP Yames Xirvisaari, who has been legally punished for instigating interethnic disagreement.