Clowns mock Finland's anti-immigrant street patrols

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image copyrightYouTube/LoO LoO
image captionAt one point, the clowns surrounded the Soldiers of Odin in a circle of song

Clowns have taken to the streets of one Finnish city to poke fun at the emergence of unofficial citizen patrols, which are widely seen as being aimed at asylum seekers.

The troupe pranced around the streets of Tampere on Saturday night, at the same time as the anti-immigrant Soldiers of Odin group were on patrol, the Yle news website reports. In response to the right-wing group, the clowns call themselves Loldiers of Odin - a portmanteau of soldiers and LOL (laugh out loud). A video of their antics shows them following the Soldiers of Odin - while occasionally pausing to play in the snow - before skipping round them in a circle and singing.

The clowns, armed with an acrobat's hoop and a hobby horse, were dressed in typically colourful garb - one man paired a striped dressing gown with a Viking-style helmet. Another clown carried a flag featuring a misshapen swastika-style emblem on one side, and the words "Sieg Fail" on the other. On their website, the clowns say their patrol was "an attempt to make the streets both safer and hilarious-er for all people".

The Soldiers of Odin have been carrying out street patrols in towns and cities across Finland for several months. In October, one member told the Aamulehti tabloid: "We woke up to a situation where many different cultures met. It caused fear and concern in the community, so we started getting together."

Many officials, including the prime minister and prosecutor general have spoken out against the patrols, but they have received qualified support from the nationalist Finns Party.

image copyrightYouTube/LoO LoO
image captionThe clowns waved goodbye to the Soldiers of Odin, who continued on their patrol

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