Grand Mosque Land Bid Rejected
Helsinki City Council’s Urban Environment Board has rejected an application to reserve land for a Grand Mosque in the city’s Hanasaari neighbourhood. After a Tuesday evening vote, council members said their decision wasn’t about restricting freedom of religion. Instead, they are concerned about where funding for the project comes from, and whether a Grand Mosque would benefit all members of the Muslim community in the capital city region. Concerns were raised previously funding would come from the Gulf state of Bahrain, with possible risks of radicalization in a Sunni mosque funded by a government with very close ties to Saudi Arabia. On Monday, the full city council will consider the application but Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori has repeatedly said he is against any permissions for a Grand Mosque, no matter where the funding comes from.
Greens Target Government Over Education
The Green Alliance has elevated the issues of education inequality into a national debate. They’re highlighting the growing gap between children with different social backgrounds, especially boys, and say the government isn’t doing enough to reverse a 15-year long decline in Finland’s education standards. Now, they’re planning a parliament debate and vote of no confidence in the government’s handling of the issue. But it won’t happen until February 2018, and experts say while it’s the only way for opposition to try and influence government policy, it’s relatively “toothless”. Read more at our original story here.
Airport Travel Trouble
Passengers stuck at Helsinki Airport last night had to fend for themselves to find accommodation, after flights were canceled due to bad weather in Finland, and at destination airports across Central Europe. Around midnight, Finnair staff were handing out water, juice and sandwiches to passengers who were at the transit area and didn’t have a connecting flight to go to. Staff urged people to book a hotel themselves and claim the money later, but a lack of available hotel rooms meant some people were given blankets and told to sleep at the airport. Passengers were also advised to avoid overcrowded baggage reclaim areas, and let Finnair send the bags on to them. Finnair had to cancel more than 60 flights,and say flight disruptions will likely continue for a few more days.
Lucia Festival Night
People in Finland – especially Swedish-speaking FInns – celebrate the Lucia festival today. The tradition came from Finland to Sweden in the late 1800s. The traditional candle-lit Lucia procession takes place in the centre of Helsinki after this year’s Lucia, Anna-Kajsa Edström, is crowned at the cathedral.
Wednesday Morning Weather
Snow is still causing a lot of problems around the country, especially with dangerous driving conditions. According to the Finnish Transport Agency, roads in the south are in a poor condition with snow and ice. That’s also the case in Northern Ostrobthnia and Kainuu. There’s more snow forecast for eastern and northern parts of the country today, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI. Temperatures at the start of the day range from zero in the capital city region, to -7°C in Lapland.