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- No Freedom for Hate Speech!
Posted by : SAFKA Saturday, August 3, 2013
The international human rights organisation, Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), has sent a letter to the Finnish President, Sauli Niinistö, regarding the publications of the Finnish free newspaper, Magneettimedia. SWC appealed to President Niinistö to invoke the prestige of his office to condemn the antisemitic articles published in Magneettimedia. SWC notes that the newspaper's articles violate the European Union's anti-discrimination provisions.
The Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee joins in the condemnation of Magneettimedia's racist publications. We agree with Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations at SWC, that Finland has an obligation to work against racism and discrimination in Europe. Freedom of speech should not be allowed to be abused to propagate hate speech. Finland's Deputy Prosecutor General has brought charges against Magneettimedia for incitement.
In February 2013, the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee expressed its concern over the fact that Efraim Zuroff, head of SWC's Jerusalem office, had cooperated with a group which is led by the Finnish agent provocateur, Johan Bäckman, and which engages in totalitarian and antisemitic propaganda. We sent a letter to Mr Zuroff, calling on him to renounce his cooperation with the group. Since we did not receive any reply, we are publishing the letter below. We find it difficult to see how cooperation with Bäckman furthers SWC's noble goals.
Dear Efraim Zuroff:
The Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee has great respect and admiration for the work that the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museums of Tolerance have done to educate new generations about the Holocaust and the need to ensure that those responsible for the crimes be brought to justice and that the crimes never happen again. In a Europe again beset with the virus of xenophobia and antisemitism, the work that organisations such as yours is doing is of vital importance.
Therefore it saddens us to see that you have chosen to cooperate with a group of provocateurs who subscribe to totalitarian ideas. What is more, some of the group's members seem to harbour openly antisemitic views. We are talking about the group led by one Johan Bäckman which — despite its open support for totalitarian ideology — has chosen to call itself "anti-fascist." We fear that your association with the group tarnishes the good work that SWC is doing.
In the group's internal correspondence that was apparently leaked by one of its disaffected members, most of the group's members deny Stalin's atrocities using expressions that are eerily reminiscent of the rhetoric used by Holocaust deniers. One of the group's most vocal members, Evgenia Hilden-Järvenperä, makes repeated comments that are openly antisemitic: In her words, the collapse of the Soviet Union was a victory for "Rotschilds and company."
The group's leader, Johan Bäckman, has fraternised with a notorious Finnish neo-Nazi, Risto Teinonen, who celebrated Hitler's birthday and the Wannsee Conference in Estonia. In Bäckman's opinion, Teinonen was a "target of persecution." More recently, he seemed to defend the militant neo-Nazi group, Finnish Resistance Movement, after its members assaulted participants at an event in a public library to launch a book about the rise of the extreme right.
In April of last year, Juha Molari, the disaffected member who appears to have leaked the internal correspondence of Bäckman's group, announced his appointment as "press officer" at the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki. Previously, Molari had voiced strong support for Israel, but was now willing to work as a propagandist of Iran's theocratic dictatorship. In the end, the Iranian Ambassador in Helsinki backed down under pressure from his plan to hire Molari.
We can thus see that Bäckman's group consists of people with extremely malleable morals, people who are quite prepared to serve the most odious of regimes and ideologies for their own personal gain and self-aggrandisement. We find it very hard to understand why anyone with at least a general knowledge of the group's activities and statements would regard it as "anti-fascist." We strongly urge you to reconsider your cooperation with the group.
"Stalin was gentle and sweet"
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