The European Commission coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life, Katharina von Schnurbein, urged Finland to improve measures aimed at fighting antisemitism and hate speech.
With surveys demonstrating that one in two EU nations has a problem with antisemitism, von Schnurbein noted that Finland is not immune and must do more to combat discrimination against Jews.
“If we want to fight antisemitism, we have to make that effort visible,” she told YLE News.
She called on Finland to improve its fight against different types of hate speech, including Holocaust denial, in order to place it on the same level as the EU strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life.
While in Finland, antisemitism and Holocaust denial are not illegal, if they meet the criteria for incitement to hatred, they can be charged as a criminal act.
Von Schnurbein, on a recent trip to Finland, spoke to the Jewish community about their worries that reforms to animal welfare laws could make kosher slaughter illegal.
“We can’t only consider the animals — we also have to think about the people. Ritual slaughter is important for Jews and Tatars. We’re not talking about many animals,” von Schnurbein said.
“It would be interesting to see what equality means in terms of this aspect… Growing antisemitism threatens other freedoms — other groups face discrimination and hate increases.”
She said that the pandemic led to a new level of antisemitism, with Jewish “blamed for developing and profiting from the virus.”
The new EU Digital Services Act will remove online hate speech, especially antisemitism, she said.
“Finland is a small language area which is why we also need Finnish-language experts to locate antisemitic content,” she added.