Finland: ''Soldiers of Odin'' patrol Kemi streets

 
Finland: ''Soldiers of Odin'' patrol Kemi streets
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The Finnish newspaper Aamulehti posted a story Thursday about a group that started patrolling the streets of the northern town of Kemi.

The paper writes that starting a few days ago a group of dark-clothed men, who call themselves the Soldiers of Odin, were patrolling the streets of Kemi.

Aamulehti interviewed the patrol's organiser, Mika Ranta, who said the reason behind the patrols was to "increase people's feeling of security."

The paper asked Ranta why he started the group.

"We woke up to a situation where many different cultures met. It caused fear and concern in the community. We started to gather a bunch of people," the paper quoted Ranta saying.

"The biggest issue was when we learned from Facebook that new asylum seekers were peering through the gates of primary schools, looking at young girls," Ranta told Aamulehti.

There is an asylum seeker reception centre based in the northern town Kemi, a town just under 30 km from the border town of Tornio, where the majority of asylum seekers have been arriving to the country recently.

Ranta was quoted claiming that there are hundreds of Soldiers of Odin members across the country.

He said that while he describes himself as a National Socialist on his Facebook page, he claims his "opinions are his own" and that there are all kinds of people in the "family friendly" group.

Aamulehti also published a photo of some members of the group, which appears to consist mostly of men clad in dark nylon bomber jackets, many of which appear to be embroidered with an acronym of the group.

Most of the members did not consent to be photographed, and turned their backs for the snapshot. But the five members in the foreground who agreed to the photo were all listed as having Finnish names in the caption.

Finnish police told the paper that it does not recommend patrols or actions like these "under any circumstances."

The newspaper Turku claims that there are "several hundred Muslim extremists" living in the city, and that "the number is growing all the time. They are deeply religious Muslims."

The following paragraph goes on to explain that these Muslims belong to the ultra-conservative Salafi movement of Islam, and that "the group has a lot of supporters in Saudi Arabia, but now also in Turku," the paper wrote.

The article later quotes Åbo Akademi University's associate professor of religious studies Tuomas Martikainen, explaining the history of arriving Muslims to the country. In his opinion their religious identities were strengthened as more Muslims arrived, and has led to conflicts within the Muslim community.

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