‘Finland or death’ school cleared over Finns Party poster

Finns Party MEP Laura Huhtasaari took to social media to vent her anger about the autumn 2018 incident, which forced the school to take extra security precautions.

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Picture of 9th grade social studies project called "Towards Finland or towards death" / Credit: @laurahuhtasaari Twitter

A school in Tampere, its head teacher and other officials have been cleared of any wrongdoing over a poster competition for 9th grade students that took aim at the Finns Party’s policies on immigration.

In autumn 2018 three students at Sammon koulu took part in a city-wide event to design a poster that highlighted an important social issue.

The 15-year olds chose to represent the plight of migrants fleeing a war-torn homeland who are faced with a choice: ‘Towards Finland, which is depicted with pictures of President Sauli Niinistö and Green Alliance MP Pekka Haavisto; or ‘Towards death’ which is shown alongside pictures of Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho and his then-deputy Laura Huhtasaari, who is now an MEP.

At the time Huhtasaari took to social media and said she had been contacted by “a number of students” who claimed students “incite and encourage hatred for democratically elected politicians.”

The school had to take extra security measures in the wake of the backlash from Huhtasaari and Finns Party supporters, and the incident was reported in international news outlets as well.

Two people lodged formal complaints with authorities about the school’s “politically driven” classroom teaching and the “provocative and political” poster which they alleged was inciting hatred against one political party.

However the Deputy Chancellor of Justice Mikko Puumalainen says the educators did not act unlawfully, especially as it was the 9th grade students themselves who wanted to make a point about immigration policy.

Puumalainen agrees with the City of Tampere which ruled earlier this year that the children should be allowed to have freedom of expression to do their work.

No action will be taken against the school or teachers.

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