Members of the Finns party’s youth arm held a “Welcome Trump” rally in the Finnish capital. Image: Yle/Zena Iovino
Police in Helsinki announced they were notified of more than ten demonstrations ahead of Monday’s meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Many were opposed to the two presidents, but there were also a few people on the streets showing their support for the US leader.
Liina Isto, a deputy chair of the Finns party’s youth arm, said US President Donald Trump’s policies appeal to her party, particularly the administration’s stance on immigration, including the zero-tolerance immigration policy which has separated thousands of migrant children from their parents.
“We are celebrating the fact that Mr Trump is coming to Finland, so we want to say that his policies are something that please us,” Isto told Yle News at the Finns Party “Welcome Trump” rally in Helsinki’s Narinkkatori in Kamppi on Sunday.
Isto says her party would like to borrow a page out of Trump’s immigration policy playbook in Finland.
“Well I don’t really see that [families would be broken apart in Finland] because the people that are coming here are mostly men who travel alone, so there are not many families that come here,” Isto told Yle News, adding that “we have to have some type of border control so that we actually know who’s coming here.”
"A president we should have"
Some 50 people turned up at the “Welcome Trump” rally which also featured Trump-inspired merchandise, including baseball caps calling to “Make Finland Great Again.”
Aleksi Niskanen, a Finns’ Party parliamentary aide, was purchasing one of these caps and brushed off the presence of the anti-immigration Soldiers of Odin, who were wearing t-shirts adorned with a symbol of a Viking and a Finnish flag.
“As long as people aren’t committing any crime, they have the right to be present...If we make any adjustments to restricting people it is a shift towards totalitarian order,” he said.
Helsinki-resident Kristiina Eskola praised Trump for what she said were his patriotic qualities.
“He is a president we should have in Finland,” she said.
Meanwhile Finnish-Kurdish Anteri Asha, a former Finns Party member, said he turned up because he said he believes the Finns Party is the only party in Finland that facilitates a critical discourse of Islam.
“As a refugee in this country, I criticize ISIS, all kinds of extremism.”
“When real dictators come to Finland, like Erdogan of Turkey,” people do not really protest, Asha added.
The Helsinki Calling demonstration strongly criticising Trump’s immigration policies was meanwhile going on a few blocks away.
“I do believe that everyone has the right to voice their own opinion and that’s freedom of speech so I definitely think that’s a good thing that people can express themselves,” Isto said, adding that, in her opinion, most news outlets in Finland are left-leaning.
Yle News / Zena Iovino