Finnish kids party cancelled over far-right march

Finnish kids party cancelled over far-right march


Finnish kids party cancelled over far-right march

View of Helsinki's Toolo districtImage copyright
Joni Karppinen

Image caption

A children’s party and a right-wing march were to take place at the same time in Helsinki’s Toolo district

A children’s party to mark 100 years of Finland’s independence has been cancelled because it clashes with a march by an ultra-nationalist group.

The manager of the Tukkutori wholesale market in Helsinki’s Toolo area, Elina Siltanen, told the YLE public broadcaster that police warned of a “security risk” if the party went ahead, given the proximity of the far-right 612 movement’s torch lit procession.

The nationalist group had arranged their march in advance, as they have done in several previous years, so the children’s party – which was to feature rabbits and alpacas – has to make way, Police Chief Inspector Seppo Kujala confirmed.

Ms Siltanen put the unfortunate double-booking down to “poor communication” with the police.

The head of the Toolo Children group, Aleksi Pahkala, is also a well-known anti-racism campaigner, but he denied suggestions that he had scheduled the event as a protest against the 612 march.

His colleague Jaakko Hilppo said they chose the Tukkutori market as the area is “relatively well lit in the evening, and so it’s easy to organise an event there that people will come to”.

He said he had no problem with the 612 procession, and told YLE “I’m glad I can live in a country where people have the right to express their opinions”.

The Toolo Children group intends to complain to Helsinki council, saying it is “not right for a children’s event to be cancelled for security reasons. The city should be safe for everyone,” Yle reports.

But the story has a happy ending for the children, as the manager of the HJK Helsinki football club has offered them the use of the team’s nearby stadium. Aki Riihilahti tweeted that the club will “always have room for children”.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

HJK Helsinki’s football ground could now host the centenary party

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Reporting by Alistair Coleman and Martin Morgan

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