A group that call themselves the "Soldiers of Odin" demonstrate in Joensuu, Eastern Finland, January 8, 2016. REUTERS/Minna Raitavuo/Lehtikuva
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Wearing black jackets adorned with a symbol of a Viking and the Finnish flag, the "Soldiers of Odin" have surfaced as self-proclaimed patriots patrolling the streets to protect native Finns from immigrants, worrying the government and police.Police files show reported cases of sexual harassment in Finland almost doubled to 147 in the last four months of 2015 from 75 in the same period a year earlier.In Kemi, the Soldiers of Odin patrol the streets daily despite the temperatures sinking to minus 30 Celsius. The group has stated it operates in 23 towns, but police says the network operates in five. One self-proclaimed member, aiming to recruit new members in the eastern town of Joensuu, said on Facebook the group is "a patriotic organization that fights for a white Finland".In Finland, no clashes have been reported between the Soldiers of Odin patrols and immigrants but police said they are keeping a close eye on the group. Police acknowledge patrolling alone is not a crime. The coalition government – which includes The Finns, an anti-immigration party – has criticized the patrols.
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