Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Finland Far-Right Party’s Nazi Salute Scandal

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.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.