Racist death threat forces Kokoomus Youth Group resignation and apology

A young political activist sent a threat to Left Alliance politician Suldaan Said Ahmed, but then quit the National Coalition Party's youth group when the messages came to light.

Composite image showing man using mobile phone and Kokoomusnuoret logo / Credit: News Now Finland

A member of the Kokoomusnuoret Youth Group of the National Coalition Party has resigned after a racist death threat he sent to a local politician came to light.

Left Alliance City Councilor Suldan Said Ahmed says he hadn’t previously interacted with Oscar Toivonen before getting an unsolicited threatening message from him on Facebook messenger in April 2019.

“Muslim girls are forced to wear a veil. Next time you will find this in your head” Toivonen wrote to Said Ahmed, adding a dagger emoji.

“Islamist asshole, I wouldn’t mind hitting you. I’m not a racist but one thing, here in Finland everyone is welcome on one condition 1. Sharia law never comes to Finland 2. People have to respect that we are not an atheist country, some immigrants do not respect it and even want to carry out Jihad” Toivonen concluded.

File picture of Suldaan Said Ahmed (Left) during parliamentary election campaign, Helsinki, March 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Said Ahmed tells News Now Finland that he is used to receiving such threats from far-right extremists, but he didn’t expect it from a member of a mainstream political party.

At the time, Said Ahmed didn’t report it to police, but earlier this month Toivonen used social media again to call the local politician an “Islamist.”

By Saturday afternoon Toivonen suddenly reached out to Said Ahmed to apologise.

“A week ago I called you an Islamist. I apologise” he began.

“You are not an Islamist and I apologise profoundly. I also sent you a death threat last year in April. The threat was sick and shocking. You can’t apologise for it, because it can never be forgiven” he wrote.

“I am a member of the [National] Coalition [Party] Youth Group. I am very sorry for what I have said. When I got to know you better, I learned that you were a top guy. I too am opposed to skin-colour-based racism. I have many Muslim friends myself, but I avoid Islamists. I hope we can shake hands when we see each other” Toivonen said.

Screen grab of message from Oscar Toivonen (NCP) to Suldaan Said Ahmed (Left) / Credit: FB Messenger

Trying to contact Oscar Toivonen

News Now Finland attempted to contact Toivonen to ask for comments but he has deleted his main Twitter account, and appears to have quit Facebook as well.

However another Twitter account @oscartoivonen2 is still online with a bio describing himself as a Christian Democrat, a conservative, and writes that they ‘do not want Finland to become Islamic’ (sic).

That account follows just seven other Twitter accounts including Hungarian right-wing leader Victor Orbán and far-right Italian politician Matteo Salvini; as well as Finland’s Christian Democrat leader Sari Essayah.

UPDATE: Oscar Toivonen contacted News Now Finland to deny the other Twitter account belongs to him. He also says “I was drunk. That’s why my message was very confusing message. I remember that day. When I sent death threats to Suldaan I was also drunk.”

Apologies all round 

When Suldaan Said Ahmed received the unexpected apology on Saturday afternoon, he wrote about it on Twitter, saying that while he is often the recipient of targeted hate messages he had never before received an apology – but he accepted it.

Shortly after posting, Said Ahmed got a call from Matias Pajula, the Chairperson of the Kokoomus Youth Group to apologise for the threat from Oscar Toivonen.

Toivonen also contacted Said Ahmed again to say he had decided to quit Kokoomus Youth Group.

File picture of Matias Pajula (NCP) during parliamentary election campaign, Helsinki, April 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Matia Pajula tells News Now Finland that his organisation does “not tolerate racism or this kind of behaviour, and as this unfortunate and extremely rare incident shows, if such behaviour comes to our knowledge it will be dealt with right away.”

Pajula says that Toivonen “was a member of our organisation for less than two months” and that when his threats from spring 2019 came to light “it was made crystal clear to him and the public that such actions are not tolerated in our party, and he left the organisation within the hour.”

Although Pajula says Toivonen had only been a member of Kokoomus Youth Group for a few months, in his original threats send in April 2019, Toivonen wrote “Greetings from the patriotic wing of the [National] Coalition [Party], you should get punched” so it is unclear exactly when he started associating himself with Kokoomus.

Screen grab of apology from Oscar Toivonen (NCP) to Suldaan Said Ahmed (Left) / Credit: FB Messenger

Kokoomus youth group’s chequered history

It’s certainly not the first time the Kokoomus Youth Group has been caught up in controversy.

In January, Matias Pajula was forced to apologise for members of his organisation who hung a picture of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) beside pictures of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin with the slogan “Towards Socialism under Marxism-Leninism-Marinism” at an official event organised by Kokoomus Youth Group.

Although Pajula attended the event, he says he didn’t notice the prominent banner but later called it unacceptable when challenged.

In previous years Kokoomus Youth Group was further to the right of the political spectrum, and certainly more controversially conservative than it is now.

In September 2013 the National Coalition Party’s affiliated organisation for immigrants Kamut complained that the Youth Group’s then-leader Susanna Koski had made statements that “spread racist and xenophobic messages.”

A previous Kokoomus Youth Group leader Wille Rydman is considered to be on the right of his party, a traditional conservative who recently hit the headlines for suggesting they should get closer to the right-wing populist Finns Party, and open the way for future governmental cooperation.

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