Finland should do more to tackle antisemitism

On her recent visit to Finland, the EU’s antisemitism watchdog Katharina von Schnurbein pointed out that neither the authorities nor the general public in Finland is fully aware of lingering anti-Semitic sentiments. [Shutterstock/TuckerBlade]

Finland should do more to tackle the hate speech the small Jewish community faces in the country, the European Commission and its antisemitism watchdog have said.

On her recent visit to Finland, the EU’s antisemitism watchdog Katharina von Schnurbein pointed out that neither the authorities nor the general public in Finland is fully aware of lingering anti-Semitic sentiments.

Her claim was based on a survey according to which one in two Europeans sees antisemitism as a problem in their home country. That number was just 17% among Finns.

Jewish people have found themselves as scapegoats during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Finland’s small Jewish community of around 2,000 members had to increase its security budget to €450,000.

Antisemitism or denying the Holocaust are not listed as criminal acts in Finland. In the YLE interview, von Schnurbein encouraged lawmakers to toughen legislation. According to her, “minimising” the issue and its threat can have dangerous consequences. She used Russia as an example, which is justifying the invasion as a way to “denazify” Ukraine.

Von Schnurbein also took a stance on the planned changes to animal welfare legislation. Kosher slaughter, a non-stun slaughter could be prevented. Von Schnurbein defended the religious slaughter method. “Ritual slaughter is important for Jews and Tatars. We’re not talking about many animals,” she said.

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