Halla-aho convicted for hate speech

Posted by – June 8, 2012

Somewhat surprisingly, Finnish parliamentarian Jussi Halla-aho’s case, which progressed to the Finnish supreme court, has turned out even worse than it did in the lower courts. Previously he was convicted only for “disturbing the peace of religion” (“uskonrauhan rikkominen”, essentially a blasphemy law), but now the supreme court has also found him guilty for incitement to hatred against an ethnic or racial group (essentially hate speech).

Finland doesn’t have the best record in the world for civil liberties anyway, but this is nevertheless a considerable setback. For Finnish readers I’ve mirrored the original blog post here (the author has already been forced to redact parts, and this new decision demands him to make further cuts). A slightly subpar English translation may be found here.

I want to point out once again that one of the laws he was convicted under, the religious peace one, contains the phrase “who mocks God”. Finland is an EU country with an actively used blasphemy law.

3 Comments on Halla-aho convicted for hate speech

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  1. HM says:

    I guess the hate speech charges could’ve gone either way. Nevertheless, the supreme court does have strong ECHR case law to back the decision, see e.g. http://www.echr.coe.int/NR/rdonlyres/D5D909DE-CDAB-4392-A8A0-867A77699169/0/FICHES_Discours_de_haine_EN.pdf

    There’s been talk of Halla-aho appealing to ECHR. It’s probably a wise thing to do, although I doubt it ever gets reviewed by the court (no permission to appeal will ever be granted).


  2. sam says:

    Thanks for the link – I hadn’t noticed your comment, for some reason my WordPress installation has stopped emailing me about new comments since I’ve changed servers.

    Which case are you specifically referring to? Erbakan v. Turkey?


  3. HM says:

    Scanning the decision for references to ECHR case law could be a good place to start: http://www.kko.fi/58715.htm

    Overall, this case resembles especially Féret v. Belgium, but of course the relevant case law depends on which court arguments you are talking about. On the essential questions of freedom of speech vs. religious intolerance or hate speech, you have Feret, then e.g. some precedents from cases against Turkey: Müslüm Gündüz, Erbakan, Karatepe, I.A.