Islamic leaders in Finland have urged the country’s centre-right government to do more to combat racism.

This is coming in the wake of continued controversy regarding comments by far-right Finance Minister Riikka Purra.

In an open letter, 26 Islamic communities and organisations in the Nordic EU country wrote that the government’s promised zero tolerance of racism requires “concrete measures.”

The government and especially Prime Minister Petteri Orpo ought to speak out more actively against open hate rhetoric and work to eliminate racist ideas, the Islamic leaders added.

Orpo’s government has been in office for less than a month, but is already under a lot of pressure.

After only 10 days, right-wing populist Economy Minister Vilhelm Junnila resigned because of contacts to right-wing extremists and jokes about Nazi symbols.

Shortly thereafter, controversy began to swirl around Purra, who is also deputy prime minister, because she had written racist and violence-promoting comments on a blog in 2008.

The open letter also condemned another text by Purra from 2019, in which she had made disparaging remarks about Muslim women in burqas.

Purra, head of the right-wing populist party The Finns, had previously apologised publicly for the statements regarding head coverings.

At the weekend, Finnish Parliament Speaker Jussi Halla-aho declined a request by the opposition to pull parliament out of its summer recess over the issues.

The Riksdag in Helsinki would not meet until September as planned, the ex-chairman of the Finns party wrote on Twitter. 

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