Finland’s Top Court Bans Neo-Nazi Group

A view of the Market Square and the Presidential palace, in Helsinki, Finland, on June 28, 2018. (Onni Ojala/Lehtikuva via AP)

HELSINKI (AFP) — Finland’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled a neo-Nazi organization illegal, saying it did not qualify for protection under freedom of speech or assembly as its activities constituted a misuse of those rights.

The ruling relates to a request from the Finnish police in 2017 to disband the Finnish chapter of the Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR), which is active in the Nordic countries.

Police argued the organization’s activities violated “the law and good practice,” in part by spreading “hateful rhetoric about immigrants, sexual minorities and Jews.” 

NMR, which designates itself as a “revolutionary national socialist” organization, disputed the police request and argued that it was protected under freedom of speech and assembly, according to broadcaster YLE.

The Supreme Court however sided with police and said the organization should be disbanded, and that it was not protected since its activities by “their nature meant a misuse of these rights.”

“We think the court’s decision is a clear message that organizations that are violent and use speech that is racist or in other ways violate human dignity should not have a place in Finnish society,” police inspector Heikki Lausmaa at the National Board of Police said in a statement.

Following a district court verdict, which was confirmed by an appeals court, the group has been temporarily banned since 2018, though police have said they believe its members have tried to resume their activities under a new name.

NMR was founded in 1997 in Sweden as the Swedish Resistance Movement. Sister organizations then sprung up in other Nordic countries during the 2000s and they were united under NMR in 2016.

The group stages protests and produces media arguing against immigration, but has also been linked to acts of violence.

In 2016, a 28-year old man died after being assaulted by NMR members in Helsinki and according to watchdog organisation Expo, several members have been convicted of a series of bombings in Gothenburg in 2016 and 2017.

© Agence France-Presse

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