19:20 GMT18 February 2020
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    The Turku stabbings, which killed two and wounded eight, left Finland in deep shock. After the culprit was identified as an Islamist with Daesh sympathies, a blistering debate on extremism erupted in the Nordic country. According to one Finnish presidential candidate, Islam must be reformed from within, and society must be able to criticize it.

    In the aftermath of the knife attack in Turku, Nils Torvalds, member of the European Parliament and the presidential candidate from the Swedish People's Party of Finland's (SFP), called for a thorough public debate on Islam.

    According to Torvalds, Islam can and should be criticized, like any other religion. He also pointed out a pattern, in which many of the culprits behind the terrorist attacks across Europe are second-generation immigrants, from Islamic countries like Morocco or Tunisia.

    "We must be able to understand Islam, what exactly it teaches and in what way. It is important that we also dare to undertake that discussion," Nils Torvalds told the Finnish daily Hufudstadsbladet.

    Torvalds himself regards Islam as a largely non-modernized religion, despite many attempts to revolutionize it, some of which go back as far as the 19th century. Torvalds ascribed Islam's excessive conservativism to France and Britain's "colonial" interests in maintaining authoritarian regimes in their former domains.

    According to Torvalds, it was in this anti-colonial environment that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt grew out of alongside a strong anti-Western sentiment. Torvalds pointed out the fact that Mohammed Atta, one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 terrorist attack against New York in 2001 came from that very background.

    One of the foremost criteria for a non-modernized religion is its approach to women's rights and position, Torvalds pointed out.

    "This is something we have to clarify for the immigrants in Finland. Attitudes need to be changed. We must be able to reform Islam on many key points. And this reform must come from within," Nils Torvalds pointed out.

    However, he also admitted that it is fully possible that the discussion may end up wrongly interpreted and backfire.

    Furthermore, the Turku stabbings indicated a dramatic failure to communicate crucial intelligence data between EU member states, as the culprit had used several identities during his stay in Finland and Germany, where he became radicalized, Torvalds pointed out. To counter this, the European Parliament is setting up a special committee to identify and successfully eliminate obstacles for the fluid exchange of information.

    "We'll have to see where these bottlenecks are and what we can do. Had this process been somehow automated, this guy would have landed on the radar," Nils Torvalds pointed out.

    According to him, blocking all public places with concrete barriers and staffing them with heavily armed police is not an alternative.

    Nils "Nicke" Torvalds is the son of the Finland Swedish poet Ole Torvalds and the father of renowned software engineer Linus Torvalds, the mastermind behind the Linux kernel. He started his political career in the Communist Party of Finland, eventually becoming elected to its central committee in 1982. Later, he pursued a successful career as a journalist at Finland's national broadcaster Yle and switched to the Swedish People's Party of Finland.

    Presidential elections are scheduled to be held in January 2018, with a second round to be held in February if necessary.


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