A new report by the Ministry of Justice finds that hate speech has become the most common form of discriminatory behaviour targeting minorities.
Of the 1475 people polled for the report, 61 per cent said that hate speech had eroded their general sense of safety over the preceding 12 months, indicating that the problem has been getting worse over a relatively short period. Facebook and other social media are frequent platforms for racist and other discriminatory abuse, but so are face-to-face encounters.
Closely linked to this are the frequent experiences by journalists in Finland of hate speech directed at them for the way they have approached a news story concerning asylum seekers and refugees or other minorities.
The February issue of the UJF magazine Journalisti reports on the case of Uusi Suomi journalist Linda Pelkonen, who queried the disclosure by the police of a rape suspect’s foreign background. Pelkonen’s article unleashed a deluge of abuse on a discussion forum of the notorious MV-lehti online newspaper, which specializes in racist and anti-minority calumny.
The Journalisti report provides an alarming insight into the increase in violent, often misogynistic, abuse against minorities.
At the end of February, meanwhile, 21 editors of the largest media houses in Finland issued a joint statement in defence of “trustworthy journalism”, as opposed to the “fake media” of MV-lehti and other new online magazines using news formats.