In Finland, the murderer is the hero
2016-12-15 14:39:45 -
World News
Panu Höglund

In early December a terrible massacre took place in Imatra, a small town in eastern Finland. Three women were about to leave a pub when a young man started to shoot at them in ambush. The three women – a local Social Democratic politician and two journalists – were killed immediately, and the youngster stood there without even trying to escape. When the police squad car arrived, he was quite happy to surrender. According to the police statement, there were no political reasons behind the crime. Not being more than twenty-something years old, the suspect had already done some time in prison, having already attempted murder.

The police told us that this was a random act, and that the youth hadn’t been determined to kill these particular women. It is another story entirely that so-called critics of immigration, as they call themselves – really, organised racists – immediately declared the murderer a hero. One of that ilk came upon a picture showing the murdered politician welcoming asylum seekers to Finland and posted it in a racist Facebook group. The feedback was nauseating. The members of the group were convinced that the woman got her just deserts, proclaiming that the killer should be given a medal. Of course, the comment box was all cluttered with sexual fantasies about the woman and asylum-seeking men.

This is what Finnish netiquette looks like today. And racists are not the only group taking advantage of tragedies such as this one. Shortly after the murders, a new account called ‘Imatra News’ popped up on Twitter – whatever the name, there was no connection whatsoever with any real media in or around Imatra. The account gave the murder its own spin, suggesting that the murderer was a military man in active service in the Finnish army and that the women had been Russian; both statements were lies, of course. But obviously, it was just Russia waging her usual information war against western democracy again.

As regards the murderer himself, at present it seems that the police were right – that he had psychiatric problems rather than political ideas. On the other hand, it is quite thinkable that he was infected by the atmosphere of the country today: racists gloat over pictures of dead children on Mediterranean beaches as though they were watching porn, call Social Democratic politicians abusive names day in, day out, and praise Anders Behring Breivik for the massacre he committed. What these circles are telling young men is that they’ll become heroes if they kill mainstream politicians. Quite possibly the Imatra murderer took this as an order.

Panu Höglund is a Finn who writes in Irish.
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