Finland Far-Right Party's Nazi Salute Scandal

Anti-Euro Finns Party Expels Leader Over Snapshot

Distance Hatred: The leader of the Finns Party moved to expel a member who snapped a photo of his friend giving the Nazi salute.
getty images
Distance Hatred: The leader of the Finns Party moved to expel a member who snapped a photo of his friend giving the Nazi salute.

By Reuters

Published October 03, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Finland’s anti-euro Finns Party said it would expel a member who photographed a friend giving a Nazi salute in parliament to try to distance itself from scandals threatening its popularity.

James Hirvisaari, an outspoken member of the party which has grown in popularity by capitalising on anger over eurozone bailouts, invited his friend Seppo Lehto to parliament on Friday and took the photo of him making the salute in the main hall.

It was posted on Lehto’s blog.

The Finns Party, Finland’s biggest opposition party, said officials had proposed expelling Hirvisaari, and its vice chairman, Juho Eerola, told Reuters it was practically certain he would be expelled.

Party officials said the photograph was the last straw after a series of scandals involving inflammatory comments about immigrants that have damaged its reputation.

“We just don’t need the kind of publicity that Hirvisaari was again bringing with his activity,” another vice chairman, Jussi Niinisto, was quoted as saying in an online report of the daily Helsingin Sanomat.

The speaker of Finland’s parliament, Eero Heinaluoma from the Social Democrats party, said he had issued a warning to Hirvisaari, the toughest measure available to him.

“To make a Nazi salute in parliament … is absolutely unacceptable and we are drawing a line there, so that everybody can see what the consequences are,” Heinaluoma told reporters.

Hirvisaari said in a blog post on Wednesday that Lehto was a joker. “I apologise if someone has been offended by the pictures he published on the Internet, and I’m sorry if some people are straitlaced, I know I’m not,” he said.

On Thursday, he sent a letter to Heinaluoma apologising and condemning Nazism.

Hirvisaari was fined in 2011 for inciting racial and ethnic hatred after saying Muslims brought violence to Finland. He was also temporarily expelled from a Finns Party lawmaker group last year after defending his aide who suggested all immigrants in Finland should wear armbands.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.