Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Finland Cracks Down

Update: Mikkos Ellilä has made contact. See my most recent post on the topic here.

Mikko ElliläA followup to yesterday’s report: I just got a note from Vasarahammer, with his summary of Mikko Ellilä’s situation. Mr. Ellilä is a Finnish writer and blogger who has been summoned by the police for a hearing under Finland’s “incitement against groups” law.

Several commenters have expressed the opinion that this whole business is likely to amount to nothing, and that Mr. Ellilä’s case will be dismissed when he goes in for his hearing on Monday.

But we’re not going to take that for granted. A little international pressure will help concentrate the mind of the Finnish government and make it realize its mistake in harassing Mikko Ellilä.

I suggest a two-pronged plan:

1. If you are a blogger, publicize this on your blog. If you are Finnish, and have additional information on Mikko Ellilä, send it in to us or to other blogs to add to the publicity. In particular, a photo would help — I couldn’t find one.
2. Contact the Finnish authorities. For our American readers, the Finnish embassy has a handy US map with state-by-state contact information here.
Here’s the main contact info for their embassy in Washington:

Embassy of Finland
3301 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.
Washington D.C. 20008

Tel. +1-202-298 5800
Fax: +1-202-298 6030

Don’t be shy: remind the Finnish authorities how highly-regarded free speech is in their country. It seems that they may have forgotten that.

Here are the details on the case as sent by Vasarahammer:

Dear Baron,

A little bit of background information related to Mikko Ellilä’s case.

Finnish penal code contains a law that criminalizes incitement against a group of people. Here’s an inadequate translation of that law (Criminal code section 11 paragraph 8)

Whoever publicly distributes statements or other information that threatens or abuses some national, racial, ethnic or religious group or group of people that can be regarded as such, shall be sentenced for incitement against a group of people to pay a fine or imprisoned with maximum penalty of two years.

The law is very vague and leaves a lot of room for creative interpretation. Basically you can say that it is illegal in Finland to state your honest opinion about Islam in public. There are similar laws in other Nordic countries and I suspect that this law has been almost directly copied from Swedish penal code.
- - - - - - - - - -
When the organization called Suomen Sisu published the Mohammad cartoons on their website, a police investigation was conducted based on the above-mentioned law. However, the case never went to court, since the public prosecutor decided against pursuing the case.

Here is the account of one person who saw what happened in the Suomen Sisu case.

It is in Finnish, so I will translate the most important parts.

I followed from a close distance the Mohammad cartoon furore in Finland. We tried to contact various organizations that advocate freedom of speech, various institutions, newspapers and other media. The reply was a deafening silence. I first thought that this was due to the reputation of Suomen Sisu, but after the Kaltio scandal broke, the silence of the media in defending the rights of Suomen Sisu could no longer be explained by anything else than fear.

Based on those experiences I am completely sure that if the case had went to court and the Finnish publishers of the cartoons had been prosecuted, the media would have accepted this without questioning the merits of the case.

The Kaltio case was about a small cultural newspaper that published a cartoon strip drawn by Ville Ranta. The comic strip featured a masked figure of prophet Muhammad and it criticized the gutless behaviour of Finnish leading politicians during the cartoon controversy. The editor of Kaltio was fired after several advertisers withdrew their ads from the paper. The mainstream media did not regard this as an important freedom of speech issue.

Mikko Ellilä is not a politically correct writer. He is however very brave in writing under his own name and not using a pseudonym. This also makes him an easy target for the authorities. Now you should understand why Fjordman uses a pseudonym.

Recently, Government Minority Ombudsman Mikko Puumalainen threatened that Government would crack down against internet sites considered as racist. I suspect that Mikko Ellilä’s questioning by the police has something to do with Puumalainen’s statement, though it cannot be verified at this stage. By making the issue public you are helping Mikko and maybe in some way help Finland get rid of that restrictive law.


ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

It should be borne in mind that European countries base their laws on the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms promulgated by the Council of Europe.
In reading articles 9 and 10 of that "document" human (civil) rights are grandly proclaimed in the first sentence of each and then effectively nullified in the subsequent text. For example: Article 10 – Freedom of expression

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

In effect, the "rights" in those countries are whatever the government deigns to grant. A perfect situation for the implementation of shaira law by the way.

X said...

Leonidas makes a good point. The european convention on human rights was written in to the legislation of all EU member states several years ago, and subsequent laws are obliged to take it in to account in their formulation. This law is probably a direct implementation of EU directives on the matter, and if they could be said to have copied this from the swedish penal code it's only because they couldn't be bothered writing their own version of it.

X said...

ANother thought hit me after I pressed send, so firgive me double posting. Again.

Whilst it would be easy to simply blame the EU for this, it has to be pointed out that EU membership is still entirely volutary and bound by treaties only. The EU is attempting to reverse the current relationship between member states and the bureaucracy (thence the 'constitution') but until that occurs the member states are still technically sovereign, and could unilaterally repeal their membership simply by invoking that sovereignty and enforcing the primacy of their national legislature.

Of course they don't do this. Our politicians find it highly convenient to have a remote bureaucracy to blame for all their mistakes, though this has become less easy as more and more areas of legislation have fallen in to EU hands. Also, there is the problem of what is known as the crab mentality, based on the oft-repeated story of what happens if a crab tries to escape from a crabbing pot. In essence its companions would rather pull its legs off than let it go free when they can't follow. Whether it's true or not, it's a good illustration of what happens at the national leadership level. Any politician who makes noise about leaving the EU quickly falls from grace, because otherwise their fellows would have to admit they had made a massive mistake.

If, as I believe, this law is a direct implemention of EU directives then there's nothing they can do about it either. As part of their treaty obligations the member states cannot repeal legislation that was put in place to comply with EU directives.

So we're stuck with stupid laws that persecute people for speaking their mind, and there's not much we can really do about it because the people we can elect don't want to deal with the problem, and the people causing the problem are not answerable to the ballot box. How fun...

Vasarahammer said...

Harassment is too strong term for this. The Police are just doing their job and enforcing the law, even though it is a bad law.

The problem is that such laws can be abused either by individual citizens or overzealous civil servants.

At this stage it is not yet clear if the Police will pursue the investigation at all. It depends on who has reported the alleged crime to the Police.

PRODOS said...

Good evening fellow Thought Criminals from Australia.

This is PRODOS (my real name), owner of the THINKER TO THINKER blog network.

My direct email address is:

My phone number is: +613 9428 1234 (Melbourne, Australia)

I would like to express my 100% support for Mikko Ellilä.

I've already informed him that, if Finnish authorities ask me to remove his blog or modify any of its content I will tell them to "FUCK OFF".

Baron Bodissey wrote:

Several commenters have expressed the opinion that this whole business is likely to amount to nothing ...

Of course this entirely misses the point, as I'm sure Baron Bodissey would agree.

Mikko should not be getting investigated in the first place for expressing his views.

(Not to mention the fact that his views about the inherently violent and oppressive nature of Islam happens to be correct.)

We are with you Mikko!

Best Wishes,


Anonymous said...

hmm.. I can understand those that think its wrong that he is being investigated, but I don't think its that simple.

This kind of thing happens constantly in my own country, Denmark. I believe the left is misusing this law as an easy way to give some bad publicity to their political opponents, and to shut up people like Mikko here, who they most likely would rather that people didn't listen to. Their interest is of course; to make it appear as if anti Islamic views cannot be considered a legitimate political opinion.

This is a mess. But I am not sure if I think its a bad law.

About 3 years ago, there was a Muslim organisation. who made a very aggressive poster, where they wrote about how horrible Jews had ruined everything and they used the well known koran quote; "Kill them wherever you find them". The guy behind the poster had to spend some time in Jail, and he was charged with this law.

Mostly I think the problem is the lefts misuse of the law, and a 2. problem is how we define Islam. Is Islam a race, a religion, a culture, a Nation (the ummah) or an ideology. If we criticise an ideology, it seems absurd to be charged with racism, but this is exactly what happens when it comes to Islam.

I cant remember any problems with this law, where Islam wasn't involved.

Also we should be aware that these laws can also be used to protect people like Mikko.

Whats happening now in Denmark is that some people, after they have been reported or charged, and eventually found Innocent, have counter sued for slander. None of these charges have been brought to an end so far. But if there is a price for this kind of miss use of the laws, then it will hopefully go away.

I am crossing my fingers for Mikko Ellilä, hoping he will not be charged. And if he isn't, I hope he counter sues for slander.

Profitsbeard said...

So it is illegal to write things that "abuse" a "religious group" in Finland?

What if I want to follow the Aztec religion and sacrifice young girls to the Sun?

Or the cult of Moloch, and roll live babies into fiery "holocausts" (the origin of the word)?

No one in Finland can say this is wrong?

What lunatic wrote this damnable drivel?

What the hell exactly is a "religion" under this term?

And what constitutesd "abuse"?

If one mocked a heart-ripping Aztec priest, would that be grounds for arrest?

These kind of vague, oppressive, feel-good (but cause-bad)demented "laws" need to be opposed whenever possible, before the mutate and metastasize.

They are a cancer on human intellectual and freedom.

If a "religion" -or any of these other categories- can't handle criticism or artistic/satirical attention, then they deserve to die out.

Free speech requires the power to insult, or it is meaningless.

Ontario Emperor said...

"Mikko should not be getting investigated in the first place for expressing his views."

It's not that black and white. Or if it is, don't complain about the spammers who are merely expressing their views, also.

Profitsbeard said...

ontario emperor-

I'll take SPAM over ISLAM anyday.