An outspoken Estonian politician has a message for would-be immigrants: “If you’re black, go back.”
Martin Helme, a board member for the Conservative People’s Party, was speaking about immigration policies on a television show in Tallinn, when he said he wants Estonia to remain a “white country,” and that an influx of immigrants would lead to the “pillaging and raping” of Estonian towns.
The English-language ERR, an Estonian public broadcasting service, reported the story on Wednesday, stating that Helme’s comments stemmed from concerns that Estonia could see civil unrest similar to elsewhere in Europe, where migration from African nations such as Algeria, Morocco and Cameroon has skyrocketed over the past four decades.
Tensions between immigrants and authorities have increased in the wake of Europe’s economic downturn, which has lessened prospects for the thousands of Africans who migrate to Europe each year in search of a better life. In Sweden last week, riots broke out in Stockholm after police shot 69-year-old Portuguese immigrant who had lived in the country for 30 years. It was the third time that riots have broken out in the country in the last five years. Helme, ERR reports, wants to avoid similar problems in Estonia before they start.
“Estonia shouldn’t allow things to go as far as in England, France and Sweden,” Helme reportedly said. “Our immigration policy should have one simple rule: If you’re black, go back. As simple as that. We shouldn't allow this problem to emerge in the first place.”
The 37-year-old Helme formerly worked for the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Open Estonia Foundation, according to his profile on the conservative Brussels Journal, where he kept a right-leaning blog on social and economic issues facing Europe. In Estonia, he has a reputation for xenophobic viewpoints, at least based on Twitter responses to his latest comments.
Formerly known as the People’s Union -- a center-right, pro-business party in the 1990s -- the Conservative People’s Party once had the largest membership in Estonia. However, support for the party waned significantly following a series of leadership scandals. Today the party is supported by only about 3 percent of the country and is not even represented in Estonia’s parliament, according to ERR.
Meanwhile, Helme is not backing down from his stance. Asked about his comments by the Estonian newspaper Postimees, the politician said he should be free to discuss his beliefs on immigration without political correctness getting in the way.