Finland's anti-euro party to expel member over friend's Nazi salute

HELSINKI Thu Oct 3, 2013 4:44pm IST

Related Topics

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland's anti-euro Finns Party said it would expel a member who photographed a friend giving a Nazi salute in parliament to try to distance itself from scandals threatening its popularity.

James Hirvisaari, an outspoken member of the party which has grown in popularity by capitalising on anger over eurozone bailouts, invited his friend Seppo Lehto to parliament on Friday and took the photo of him making the salute in the main hall.

It was posted on Lehto's blog.

The Finns Party, Finland's biggest opposition party, said officials had proposed expelling Hirvisaari, and its vice chairman, Juho Eerola, told Reuters it was practically certain he would be expelled.

Party officials said the photograph was the last straw after a series of scandals involving inflammatory comments about immigrants that have damaged its reputation.

"We just don't need the kind of publicity that Hirvisaari was again bringing with his activity," another vice chairman, Jussi Niinisto, was quoted as saying in an online report of the daily Helsingin Sanomat.

The speaker of Finland's parliament, Eero Heinaluoma from the Social Democrats party, said he had issued a warning to Hirvisaari, the toughest measure available to him.

"To make a Nazi salute in parliament ... is absolutely unacceptable and we are drawing a line there, so that everybody can see what the consequences are," Heinaluoma told reporters.

Hirvisaari said in a blog post on Wednesday that Lehto was a joker. "I apologise if someone has been offended by the pictures he published on the Internet, and I'm sorry if some people are straitlaced, I know I'm not," he said.

On Thursday, he sent a letter to Heinaluoma apologising and condemning Nazism.

Hirvisaari was fined in 2011 for inciting racial and ethnic hatred after saying Muslims brought violence to Finland. He was also temporarily expelled from a Finns Party lawmaker group last year after defending his aide who suggested all immigrants in Finland should wear armbands.

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl, Ritsuko Ando and Terhi Kinnunen, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

ENTERTAINMENT SHOWCASE

Director Jolie

Director Jolie

Angelina Jolie to direct Richard Leakey biopic 'Africa'.  Full Article 

A Minute With

A Minute With

Jane Fonda on learning from the young comic set   Full Article 

Loren turns 80

Loren turns 80

Sophia Loren, Italy's national icon, turns 80 with book of memoirs.  Full Article 

Breakout Star

Breakout Star

Burberry's first Indian model Neelam Gill conquers fashion world.  Video 

Ig Nobel

Ig Nobel

Banana peel study, ugly art research win Ig Nobel spoof awards  Full Article 

Subdued Role

Subdued Role

Reese Witherspoon finds lessons in 'The Good Lie'.   Full Article 

Best-Dressed

Best-Dressed

Singer Taylor Swift leads People Magazine's best-dressed list.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage