Finland is getting ready to say "no" to swastikas, Source: Victor Hugo Garcia Ulloa, on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Finnish government may ban the swastika

Finnish government may ban the swastika

Following some high-profile racism scandals involving national politicians

Back in June, Finland saw its new right-wing coalition government sworn in following the parliamentary elections. And it was not long before it got itself embroiled in some tarnishing racist scandals involving three ministers.

All of them are part of the Finns Party, described as far-right and populist, however, one which also now forms a major part of the coalition government. Without its support, the Petteri Orpo government would certainly fail.

Given that the scandals, involving racist remarks done in private conversations and correspondence, have tarnished the image of Finland and the government, the authorities have decided to balance this by appointing a working group to draw up legislation banning the swastika. If approved in parliament, that would be seen as a major step in affirming Finland’s anti-racism and anti-discrimination stance, which has lately become doubtful.

The swastika was used by the Finnish Air Force until a few years ago

Oddly enough, only one of the three ministers involved in the racist comments scandals – Vilhelm Junnila (holding the Economy portfolio) – has resigned. The proposed legislation seems to be a way to force the Finns Party to eradicate its quiet support and tolerance for racism amid its ranks.

Perhaps, even just as oddly, the swastika symbol was very openly used as part of the Finnish Air Force insignia until recently, before in 2017 it started quietly being phased out.

The reason to finally start removing the swastika from the insignia was explained as the increasingly negative image of the symbol worldwide.

Nevertheless, Finnish Air Force officials seemed reluctant about this removal. "First of all, it had nothing to do with the Nazis, because we got it in 1918, much before the Nazis ever existed. It has always been a symbol of independence and freedom in Finland,” explained Lt Col Kai Mecklin (Ret.) who was the Director of the Finnish Air Force Museum, speaking to Yle news agency in 2017.



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