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Far-right Finland MP exposes teenagers to online abuse after attacking pro-migration poster

Online attack was 'an unpleasant surprise', says school principal 

Zamira Rahim
Friday 05 October 2018 12:48 BST
Laura Huhtasaari is a far-right politician
Laura Huhtasaari is a far-right politician (Reuters)

Three 15-year-old pupils at a school in Finland have received a barrage of online abuse and at least one threat of violence after a far-right MP attacked their pro-refugee project and their school.

Laura Huhtasaari, an MP for the anti-immigration Finns Party, tweeted a photograph of a poster made by the teenagers to thousands of her followers on Sunday.

The poster, titled ”Finland or Death?”, appears to tackle the theme of immigration and is sympathetic to refugees arriving in the country.

Photos of Sauli Niinisto, the country’s president, and Pekka Haavisto, a Green League MP, are placed under the “Finland” section.

Images of Ms Huhtasaari and the Finns Party leader, Jussi Halla-aho, appear under the word “Death”.

A photograph of a boat filled with refugees is placed in the centre of the poster.

The pupils, who made the poster, were exposed to online abuse (Twitter)

Ms Huhtasaari has previously demanded that asylum seekers be denied entry to Finland “by all means necessary”. She has also claimed that a fear of Islam can be explained by “Muslim backwardness”, according to the Finnish Broadcasting Company.

Accusing the school of encouraging “hate speech” in her tweet, she attached a photograph of the poster which included the names of the students who had made it.

The school told the Finnish Broadcasting Company it had since received emails and text messages accusing the principal of brainwashing students and of spreading Marxism and Jihadism.

“I must admit it was an unpleasant surprise,” the principal said. “Students’ names should not be published without permission.”

He added that the poster had been taken out of context. The students were told to create a poster that expressed a position on an issue and did so, he said.

Ms Huhtasaari’s tweet has prompted extensive debate, with some calling for the teacher who assigned the task to be sacked.

Others criticised the politician for publishing the school’s name and the identity of the students involved.

“We are talking about work that was publicly displayed in the school lobby. Naturally the teacher and principal are responsible for what kind of work ends up on the school walls,” the MP told told the broadcaster. “The responsibility lies with the teacher and the principal, not the students.”

She added that the photo had been sent to her by another student at the school.

“The teacher’s role is not to instigate fear about a certain democratic party or politician,” the MP added.

Other politicians have defended the school in the town of Tampere in southern Finland.

Tampere’s mayor, Johanna Loukaskorpi, said politicians should not interfere with the curriculum.

”I think it’s most unfortunate that an MP would highlight an individual school and students in a tweet to promote her political ideology,” she said. “I personally think that the poster was quite effective in that it made an impact and is thought-provoking. The school can now discuss how much of an impact a single poster can have or how an image can spread through social media to an incredible extent.”

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