Appeal from city and religious communities: Everyone has the right to live in Helsinki without fear, harassment or discrimination

The last few weeks have shown us the ugliest, cruellest and darkest sides of our world and human nature. The shocking events in the Middle East are distressing and give rise to strong emotions.
Mayor of Helsinki Juhana Vartiainen (fifth from the left) with representatives of CORE Forum.
Mayor of Helsinki Juhana Vartiainen (fifth from the left) with representatives of CORE Forum. Photo: Helsingin kaupunki / Helsingfors stad / City of Helsinki

Neither Helsinki nor its people are parties to conflicts. No residents of the city should be held responsible due to their religion or ethnic background for events they cannot influence. 

Even so, we have recently been hearing disturbing messages that many people in Helsinki have still had to be afraid or be subject to insults due to their background or the religion that they represent. 

All kinds of discrimination, threats and intimidation must be condemned in the strongest way possible. No one in Helsinki should have to feel fear or experience discrimination – let alone the threat of violence. 

Helsinki is a city where people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds can live side-by-side in peace. We are determined to make sure that this will remain the case.

We appeal to each and every resident of Helsinki, members of every religious and ethnic group. We must maintain our sense of humanity and continue to extend our mutual respect – even through our most difficult and darkest hours. Let’s work together for a better Helsinki: a city where everyone can feel at home and where each of us can live without fear. 

In Helsinki, on 19 December 2023, 

Juhana Vartiainen 
Mayor of Helsinki

Representatives of National Forum for Cooperation of Religions in Finland (CORE Forum): 

Father Heikki Huttunen, Chair of CORE Forum, Finnish Ecumenical Council, Orthodox Church of Finland
Gölten Bedretdin, Vice-Chair of CORE Forum, Finnish-Islamic Congregation
Yvonne Westerlund, Vice-Chair of CORE Forum, Central Council of Jewish Communities in Finland
Timo Koponen, Vice-Chair of CORE Forum, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Finland
Deputy board member Jyri Komulainen, on behalf of Laura Huovinen, CORE Forum board member, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Irma Rinne, CORE Forum board member, Finnish Buddhist Union
Gurmann Saini, CORE Forum observatory board member, Hindu Forum in Finland
Katri Kuusikallio, CORE Forum Executive Director