Anti-racists campaigning against offensive imagery on the packets of one of Finland's most popular sweets have scored a double victory.
Firstly, the largest Finnish community centre outside the Scandinavian country have banned the products. And, Britain's powerful Commission for Racial Equality have joined the Finnish Church in London and written to manufacturers Cloetta Fazer to raise their objections. Both organisations want an explanation about why the offensive 'Sambo' picture of a Black face is still being used by the company, Scandinavia's largest maker of confectionery.
Rector of the Finnish Church Juha RintamÃ¤ki acted after being contacted by editor of The-Latest Marc Wadsworth who complained about Fazer's controversial liquorice being sold in the church shop. RintamÃ¤ki immediately removed the products from the shelves and fired off a letter to Cloetta Fazer. He told The-Latest: "I don't like the image and nor do many other people. But the problem is that the product is very popular because people like the taste. The matter isn't over yet."
The church's service manager Marja Lyhty, who is responsible for the shop, added: "We have decided not to stock the product any more. In fact we are considering replacing it with Panda sweets (manufactured by another Finnish company) because Fazer have told us they have no intention of changing the design unless they are forced to by Finnish law."
The Finnish Church, in Albion Street, Rotherhithe, holds a10-day Christmas market in November visited by more than 6,000 people. RintamÃ¤ki said the Fazer liquorice was the most popular sweet on sale throughout the year and it was worth more than a thousand pounds in revenue.
But the products removed from the church's shop would not be returned to Fazer. Meanwhile, lawyers at the CRE in the UK have written to the Finnish sweets company 'advising them to reconsider the future manufacture and distribution' of the 'Sambo' liquorice packaging because it is 'offensive and distasteful'.
Despite the fact that Cloetta Fazer have stubbornly refused pressure from anti-racists to ban the image for almost a decade, the CRE seem confident that their 'advice would be adhered to'.
See also: 'Finnish Celebs Want 'Sambo' Image Ban' (The-Latest, World News).