Finland Bans neo-Nazi Group Over Violence, Incitement

The Nordic Resistance Movement had urged supporters to carry out violent acts, a Finnish district court said in banning the group

Members of the Nordic Resistance Movement march in central Goteborg, Sweden, Saturday Sept. 30, 2017.
Fredrik Sandberg/AP

A Finnish court Thursday banned a neo-Nazi group, in line with a request from the National Police Board that argued it was racist and violent.

The district court in Tampere said the Nordic Resistance Movement urged supporters to commit violent acts, public broadcaster YLE reported.

National police commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen said the ruling was "a clear message that the activities of violent and openly racist organizations have no place whatsoever in Finnish society."

The group has an estimated 70 to 90 active members, while about 200 people support its ideology, Finnish security police said, according to Sweden-based Expo magazine which tracks right-wing extremist groups.

It was not clear if the Finnish group would appeal.

During the trial the group, which is not officially registered in Finland, said a ban would violate free speech and freedom of association.

A similar ban was last issued in the 1970s.

The police moved for a ban in the wake of an incident last year when a member of the Finnish group received a two-year sentence for aggravated assault in connection with a counter-protest against racism in Helsinki.

The convicted man kicked a man in the chest after an altercation when members were distributing leaflets. The victim died due to a head injury after hitting the pavement.

The Nordic Resistance Movement has affiliates in neighboring Norway and Sweden.