Racist and abusive language is “commonplace” online in Finland and is on the rise in political discourse, a report by the Council of Europe warned on Tuesday (Sept 10). Although the Nordic nation frequently tops international comparisons regarding happiness, gender equality and quality of life, the population has the lowest share of foreign-born residents in western Europe, at 6.6 per cent, and anti-immigrant sentiment is widespread. The hardline Finns Party, which campaigns on a platform of staunch opposition to asylum, has been the second-largest party in the past two general elections. “Racist and intolerant hate speech in public discourse is escalating; the main targets are asylum seekers and Muslims,” the council’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance said in the report. Meanwhile, online “expressions of racism and xenophobia containing anti-immigrant rhetoric as well as targeting persons of African descent, LGBT persons and the Jewish community are commonplace, as is abusive language when referring to Roma”, the authors said.