Troupe of clowns mock anti-immigration group patrolling Finnish streets
The Soldiers of Odin are a pretty ominous looking group. They wear black bomber jackets and patrol Finnish streets in gangs — claiming to protect what they call "native Finns" from "Islamist intruders."
But now, a rival gang of "clandestine clowns," calling themselves the Loldiers of Odin are fighting back, following the Soldiers around the streets of Tampere. They're plan? To undercut the anti-immigrant message with a more light-hearted brand of vigilante action.
"We thought that patrolling must be a trend in Finland so we decided we will go out too, and accidently we meet with these other clowns," Pelle Satatuhatta tells As It Happens co-host Carol Off. He is one of the clowns in the Loldiers troupe.
"Their humour is not like smiling and stuff," Satauhatta quips. "What we learned on the street was that even though we tried to be as funny as possible and people did laugh [at] us, they did laugh more at them, so they must be better clowns than us."
Satatuhatta says the response from the Soldiers of Odin has been lukewarm.
Regrettably, Satatuhatta says none of the Soldiers joined in when the clowns broke into a children's song. Nor did they take part in hula-hooping or snowball fights. He adds that taunting the group, whose ranks reportedly include extremists and criminals, doesn't phase the Loldiers.
"As clowns we laugh at danger so we didn't really think that it's that serious situation at all but I know that their humour is kind of like wanting to make people scared of them," he explains.
Satatuhatta thinks the Loldiers' tactics may have worked. The Soldiers promised ongoing patrols but he says they have not been seen on the streets of Tempere since their last patrol on Saturday.
As far as Satatuhatta knows, to date, the Soldiers' patrols have been non-violent but the indirect violence of the message the group promotes is already being felt. Satatuhatta points to the recent death of a refugee from severe weather exposure, after they were refused entry into Finland, as evidence of growing prejudice and an apathetic government.
"There are some people, Finnish people and also some people in parliament, who think that laughing at someone else's misery is a funny thing," Satatuhatta explains. "Maybe for some people connected with Soldiers of Odin but as Loldiers we think that it's not so funny to laugh at someone else's misery — you have to be able to laugh at yourself and if you can't do that then it's not very funny."