Comments In Interview Could Bring Charges Of Inciting Racism Against PM Vanhanen’s Father
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The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is considering whether or not to launch a criminal investigation into comments made by Professor Emeritus Tatu Vanhanen in an interview with Kuukausiliite, a monthly magazine supplement of Helsingin Sanomat.
In the interview Professor Vanhanen, a former Professor of Political Science at the University of Tampere, said that evolution has made Europeans and North Americans more intelligent than Africans. Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said on Wednesday that he regrets the controversy sparked by Tatu Vanhanen, who is his father.
Professor Vanhanen told Kuukausiliite that African poverty is not the fault of the white man.
“Whereas the average IQ of Finns is 97, in Africa it is between 60 and 70. Differences in intelligence are the most significant factor in explaining poverty”, Vanhanen said.
He also said that it might be a good thing if as many Europeans, Americans, and Asians as possible were to take on leading economic posts in African countries. “Only they are capable of creating prosperity”, he said.
On the other hand, Tatu Vanhanen said that he favours economic solidarity toward poor countries, and he hopes that immigrants in Finland would inter-marry and assimilate into the population at large.
Jari Liukku, deputy head of the NBI, says that the police are investigating whether or not Vanhanen’s comments constitute public incitement against a national group, which is a crime under Finnish law.
Liukku would not say if Helsingin Sanomat was being investigated for publishing the interview.
“This is a precedent. Nothing like this has been put forward before. We want to go through international cases before making any decisions.”
Finland’s minority Ombudsman Mikko Puumalainen hopes that a police investigation will be launched. He says that although freedom of expression is a fundamental right in Finland, the right is not unlimited.
Puumalainen also dismissed the scientific validity of Vanhanen’s claims.
The Finnish League for Human Rights fears that Vanhanen’s interview could aggravate the racism experienced by immigrants and ethnic minorities in Finland.
“This interview could strengthen movements of the far right”, says Aysu Shakir, a project head at the league.
Shakir notes that after the publication of the interview, Internet chat rooms have filled up with comments by extreme right-wing groups and individuals who “swear by Vanhanen’s name”.
Commenting on his father’s interview, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said that it case was “more a sad matter than a burden” for him.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that the controversy would not have arisen if the person making the comments were not his father.
Asked if he felt a need to distance himself from the views that Tatu Vanhanen expressed, he said that he does not plan to engage in public debate with his father.
(Posted on July 23, 2007)