Finland Islam in Finland



Apparently being an advocate for stoning of homosexuals, Bilal Philips, doesn’t fulfil Finland’s criteria for banning a person from entering the country.

However Finnish officials say they cannot prevent the entry of private individuals into the country without plausible justification.


Finns Party MPs call for ban on Muslim cleric

Controversial Islamic cleric Bilal Philips is reportedly due to arrive in Finland at the end of March at the invitation of a Helsinki Muslim group. Finns Party MP Olli Immonen says Finland should ban the cleric. However Finnish officials say they cannot prevent the entry of private individuals into the country without plausible justification.

Opasteita rajatarkastukseen Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasemalla.
Finnish Border Guard officials say sound justifications are required before authorities will refuse entry to individuals attempting to enter the country. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

The contentious Islamic cleric Bilal Philips has been banned entry into several other countries such as Germany, Australia, Kenya and Britain. Philips became infamous, reportedly for apparently defending suicide bombing before later denouncing the practice as forbidden by Islam.

Philips’ imminent visit to Finland has been a source of concern, particularly for some Finns Party members of parliament. Finns Party MP Olli Immonen has called on Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen, immigration police and the security police Supo to prevent Philips from entering the country.

Immonen’s peer Jussi Halla-Aho has filed a written interpolation on the matter in the parliament, in which he outlined his concerns about the possible impact of the cleric on Finland’s Muslim community.

“The actions of the Muslim cleric will maintain and increase the isolation of this community from the wider society, in the same way that reactionary practices within these communities impact on the lives of women,” Halla-aho wrote.

Entry ban must be justified

Finnish officials won’t take a position on specific cases, but have clear general guidelines for denying entry.

“The criteria for entry are specified in the border regulations of the Schengen area and in (Finland’s) Aliens Act and if all is in order then an individual may enter the country. It’s another matter if an individual does not fulfill all the criteria during a border inspection. For example an entry ban may be seen in the register during an immigration check,” said senior inspector Max Janzon of the Finnish Border Guard.

“The rule of law does not provide for arbitrarily denying entry to someone at the border without justification,” Janzon stressed. Justifications are provided in all cases where entry is denied.

In the case of the cleric Philips, some have considered whether a previous entry ban imposed by Germany in 2011 could be used as the basis for barring him from entering Finland. Like Finland, Germany belongs to the Schengen area – effectively a border free region comprising 26 European countries. They point out that in many cases entry bans in one Schengen country are upheld in others. However the neither the Border Guard nor the Finnish Immigration Agency would comment on individual cases.

Officials may also evaluate such cases on the basis of preserving public order, internal security or relations with other countries. Senior inspector Janzon emphasised that there are no general guidelines for such cases.

“It underscores overall consideration on a case by case basis in which officials make evaluations and arrive at conclusions on the basis of whether we can justifiably conclude that someone will endanger public order or security. There’s no instruction booklet, it’s about a consideration of the whole situation, and may involve cooperation between border inspection officials and other bodies,” Janzon concluded.

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