Jews in Finland face discrimination due to lack of law

Finnish law does not recognise antisemitic discrimination and Holocaust denial, claims the European Commission’s first coordinator on combating antisemitism, Katharina von Schnurbein.

In Finland, the law doesn’t recognise antisemitism or Holocaust denial as punishable offences, although they could amount to incitement to hatred, which is a criminal act.

According to Katharina von Schnurbein, who has been working as the European Commission’s first coordinator on combating antisemitism, Finnish authorities need to do more to combat hate speech, including antisemitic narratives.

„Our surveys suggest that one in two Europeans sees antisemitism as a problem in their home country. Among Finns that figure is 17 percent,” she told the Yleisradio Oy, Finland’s national public broadcasting company, adding that Finland’s relatively small Jewish community may have impacted the results (about 1,500 people practice Judaism).

Schnurbein also noted that antisemitic awareness was relatively low in Finland. „If we want to fight antisemitism, we have to make that effort visible,” she said.

On a practical level, von Schnurbein wants to see Finland take a stronger approach in tackling different forms of hate speech, including Holocaust denial. Moreover, as a response to the concerns of the Finnish Jewish community regarding the new animal welfare laws that could prevent the non-stunt Kosher slaughter, von Schnurbein explained that a exception should be made about religious slaughter, as it would only affect a small number of animals.

The EU’s new Digital Services Act aims to combat online disinformation and hate speech, including antisemitism. „Finland is a small language area which is why we also need Finnish-language experts to locate antisemitic content,” she said.