07:17 GMT +314 November 2018
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    The neo-nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (Nordiska motstandsrorelsens) sympathisers demonstrate in central Stockholm  (File)

    Right-Wing March Backfires on Finnish Nationalists, Brings Money to Opponents

    © AFP 2018 / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND
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    A much-debated march by the far-right Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), held in Helsinki on Finland's Independence Day, resulted in a welcome windfall for the country's humanitarian organizations. How's that? Human rights watchdogs launched a clever crowdfunding campaign which incorporated the threat of ultra-nationalism into their marketing pitch.

    On Finland's Independence Day (December 6), members and supporters of the Nordic Resistance Movement, a right-wing nationalist party, controversially marched through central Helsinki, exacerbating the bitter debate over the notorious organization's future in Finnish society. Their left-wing opponents took full financial advantage of the spectacle by launching the #pernatsi campaign: individuals were encouraged to donate a certain amount for every person that participated in the march, in order to promote democracy, equality and diversity.

    During the course of the crowdfunding campaign, a total of €117,000 (about $126,000) landed in human right watchdogs' pockets, The Finnish daily Hufvudstadsbladet reported. The largest beneficiaries were Amnesty Finland, Global Clinic (which among other things helps undocumented refugees), and Naisten Linja ("Women's Line"), which combats violence against women. Initially, roughly 9,400 contributors pledged to donate a total of €220,000 (about $236,000), but ultimately the donations only totaled half this amount.

    ​Additionally, a number of NGOs welcomed new members, which ultimately gives them more resources. They included the Finnish Somalia Network, which also received donations of €6,800 ($7,300).

    "This is a truly big amount for us," network leader Elisa Vepsäläinen told Hufvudstadsbladet.

    The goal of the campaign was to get as many right-wingers as possible to stay at home by matching their numbers with donations to purposes and organizations they opposed.

    The far-right Nordic Resistance Movement, which exists in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, works to promote a self-sufficient national-socialist Nordic state, which would unite the Nordic nations of the Scandinavian Peninsula. By its own admission, NRM also seeks to prevent "miscegenation" (racially mixed couples), discourage "mass immigration of racial aliens" and "regain power from the global Zionist elite."

    FRM, the Finnish branch of NRM, was founded in late 2008 and, according to the Finnish Security Service, numbers between 70 and 90 individuals. An additional 200 people are estimated to support their ideology.

    At present, Finland is mulling banning FRM altogether, in light of a spate of violent incidents which culminated in the manslaughter of an opposition protester in Helsinki in 2016. According to National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen, FRM can be shut down under the Associations Act, which forbids groups from engaging in criminal or improper behavior. However, many experts, including Esa Henrik Holappa, who co-founded FRM only to renounce it in later years, argue that outlawing the organization would be counterproductive, since it would only push it underground, making it still harder to monitor.

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    Tags:
    far-right groups, nationalism, Nordic Resistance Movement, Scandinavia, Finland
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