Pro-refugee and anti-immigration groups take turns protesting in Finland
Supporters of Free Movement Group of Finland attend a demonstration at the Finnish Immigration Service headquarters in Helsinki, on September 8, 2016. The asylym seekers demonstrated against the tightened asylum policy of Finland. (AFP/Vesa Moilanen)
A group of people have staged a rally in the Finnish capital city of Helsinki to show opposition to the European Union (EU)’s refugee policy and the presence of Muslims in the European country.
The small group of the anti-refugee demonstrators on Saturday waved Finland’s national flags and some of them carried banners demanding a stop to the entry of refugees into the country.
Anti-refugee sentiments have existed side-by-side with pro-refugee attitudes in the European countries that have been receiving irregular asylum-seekers in the recent past. While the EU does allow the refugees in, it subjects them to a rigorous process of qualification assessment that usually results in deporting them.
The Saturday anti-refugee rally in Helsinki was held two days after a pro-refugee rally was staged in the Finnish capital to protest the government’s new draconian measures against incoming refugees.
The refugees arriving in Europe are mostly fleeing war and persecution in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Finnish Immigration Service had claimed in May that the security situation in conflict-stricken countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia had improved; therefore, it had said, the refugees hailing from these countries needed to prove they were presently in danger in order to qualify for refugee status.
Under the new stringent measures, Finnish authorities rejected many of the asylum-seekers who had been originally allocated by EU authorities to the North European country.
More than 75 percent of the Iraqi refugees in Finland were ordered to be deported to their country of origin, which was deemed “safe” by Finnish officials.