US legal experts call persecution Finnish MP Räsänen "oppression"

02-06-2021

Northern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Finnish MP Päivi Räsänen. Photo ADF International

The Finnish prosecutor has come under criticism by a group of American law experts about the indictment against the MP Päivi Räsänen. The prosecution itself is even a “serious human rights abuse” and form of “oppression”, the experts write.

Räsänen is a conservative Christian who has published Bible texts against homosexual behaviour and is prosecuted for that, together with a Lutheran bishop Dr Juhana Pohjola.

Twelve leading US professors have written a open letter to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (Uscirf) about the case. That commission reports about the state of play of religious freedom in the world every year.

The American Foreign Minister Antony Blinken may take action against certain people because of such a report.

The Public Prosecutor Raija Toiviainen has prosecuted Päivi Räsänen, who until 2015 was party leader for the Christian Democrats in Finland. According to the indictment, Räsänen has commented negatively on homosexuals in a publication in 2004, as well as on social media and a radio program recently, the Swedish Christian daily Dagen reports.

She denies the criminal charges of having in any way threatened or insulted anyone.

Independent body

Now critical eyes in the United States are being directed at the public prosecutor in Finland. More than a dozen prominent professors in political science, religion, philosophy, law and more at various American universities, and active in religious freedom and values based on Christian and Jewish grounds, are now writing an open letter to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. That is a body that must work independently but has the tasks of the federal authorities.

The letter is published in Real Clear Politics. Prof. Robert P. George is also among the signatories. George himself was chairman of Uscirf from 2012 until 2016. George, who is a Roman Catholic, is considered one of the country’s leading conservative intellectuals. In 2013 George said in an interview with the Dutch Reformatorisch Dagblad that he was concerned that new legislation about gay marriage would threaten the freedom of Christians to express their views on sexual ethics.

The signatories claim that the prosecution of the Finnish public prosecutor sends a message to Finns that cannot be misunderstood: “No one who stands for traditional teachings in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and several other religions, on issues of marriage and sexual morality, will be safe from state harassment”, they write, referring to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. “These prosecutions constitute serious human rights abuses.” And further: “The prosecutions are straightforward acts of oppression.”

The university professors point out that the United States has previously reacted to, for example, China regarding human rights. The Commission is now urging US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Finance Minister Janet Yellen to file a complaint against Finnish Public Prosecutor Raija Toiviainen. Among other things, they point to the possibility of withdrawing personal visas and taking financial sanctions when the public prosecutor is involved in “serious violations of human rights”. Räsänen is assisted by the human rights organisation ADF International.

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