Speaking at the Ento-forum seminar hosted by the the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations, Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen has rejected the use of Islamic Sharia law in Finland, the Finnish newspaper Keskisuomalainen reported.
"There is no room in Finland for Sharia law or other efforts towards a parallel society," Häkkänen stressed, later repeating this idea in a tweet.
Uskonto tai kulttuuri ei oikeuta esimerkiksi naisten ja tyttöjen oikeuksien loukkaamista pakkoavioliitolla tai silpomisella. Suomessa ei ole mitään tilaa sharia-laille tai muille rinnakkaisyhteiskuntaa tavoitteleville pyrkimyksille. https://t.co/9D5l101eiv— Antti Häkkänen (@anttihakkanen) May 22, 2018
According to Häkkänen, diversity by no means implied parallel communities, where basic rights cannot be ensured. He also stressed that religion or culture can never be used to justify the violation of the rights or women or girls through, say, forced marriage or genital mutilation.
"Finland is an open, international country that is rich language- and culture-wise, and where basic rights belong equally to everyone," Häkkänen said, stressing that Finnish justice gave equal protection to anyone, regardless of their skin color, religion, gender, culture or other background.
Häkkänen has previously called for stricter punishment for violent criminals and sex offenders, particularly rapists and child abusers. According to a government proposal worked out after Häkkänen's appeal, cases involving both rape and child abuse should be classified as "aggravated child rape" and carry a sentence of up to 12 years. Consequently, the maximum sentence for child abuse may also be raised from four to six years. "Children should be protected from violence and sexual assault by all available means," Häkkänen said.
In a recent poll on behalf of the Helsingin Sanomat daily, nearly three-quarters of respondents said they favored tougher sentences for sex crimes and crimes of violence, which is very much Häkkänen's line.
Juha Kääriäinen, the director of research at the University of Helsinki's Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, called Häkkänen's policy "fishing for votes." According to Kääriäinen, a firm believer in preventive measures, tougher punishment doesn't necessarily deter crime.
Earlier this year, Finland's Supreme Court sent a ripple of discontent across the nation with a ruling that sex between a 23-year-old asylum seeker and a 10-year-old girl didn't constitute rape. Ultimately, the man, who was found to have had sex with the girl in the backyard of a deserted apartment block and exchanged sexually charged messages with his partner, more than twice his junior, was convicted of aggravated sexual abuse and handed a three-year-sentence.
Antti Häkkänen, 33, is often seen as a rising star within the conservative National Coalition Party and has been serving as justice minister for just over a year.
Suomen rangaistusjärjestelmään tehdään kiristyksiä. Erityisesti fyysiseen koskemattomuuteen liittyvissä rikoksissa muutostarpeita #rikos #rangaistus Häkkänen aikoo nostaa rikoksen uusijoita koskevan aikarajan viiteen vuoteen – ”Rangaistuksen pitää tuntua” https://t.co/4rQmW4Gewo— Antti Häkkänen (@anttihakkanen) May 12, 2018
Sharia law is Islam's legal system, derived from both the Quran, which is the religion's centerpiece, and various fatwas, which are the rulings of Islamic scholars. Sharia literally translates as "the path to follow" and offers guidance in every aspect of human life, from family life to religion. When applied in full, Sharia law may imply death penalty for crimes such as apostasy, same sex relations or adultery.
Finland, a nation of 5.5 million, is estimated to have a Muslim community of 60,000.