Finnish minister polls Instagram users on fate of Isil women and children

Finland made a rare appearance in headlines this week after after a female-led coalition took power under the leadership of Sanna Marin, who at 34 is the world’s youngest prime minister. 

But one of those new ministers is already in trouble after posting an Instagram poll asking whether Finland should take back the wives of Islamic State (Isil) fighters or just take their children and leave the women in Syria. 

Katri Kulmuni, the finance minister, apologised for the poll which asked social media users for their views on the fate of ten Finnish women and 30 children who are currently in the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp in northeast Syria. 

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are insisting that European governments take both the mothers and the children but many states, including Finland, are wary of bringing home any adult members of Isil. 

Ms Kulmuni, the 32-year-old leader of the Centre Party, posted a photograph of herself smiling at the camera alongside a poll asking if Finland should bring home “just children” or “children and mothers”. 

She deleted the post and apologised after it came in for widespread criticism online. ”I wanted to discuss this complex and difficult issue on social media. It failed and I apologise for it,” she said. 

Andrew Stroehlein, European media director at Human Rights Watch, was among those who criticised Ms Kulmuni’s post. 

“A state should respect the rights of its citizens in all cases, not put life-and-death decisions about those citizens to a public referendum on social media,” Mr Stroehlein wrote on Twitter. “What’s next, public hangings based on the volume of stadium cheers?”

All five of the parties in Finland’s new coalition government are led by women. Four of the party leaders, including the prime minister, are under the age of 35. 

Britain has so far refused to take back any adults from the al-Hol although it recently repatriated a small number of British orphans whose parents were killed in Syria. 

Save the Children estimates there still around 60 British children in Syria and has called on the government to bring them all home. 

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