Finnish-Arab Friendship Society FAFS (Arabikansojen Ystävyysseura, AKYS) was founded in 1976 to promote friendly relations and mutual understanding between the Finnish and Arab people.
The Society carries out solidarity activities for people afflicted by wars and power struggles between foreign powers and strives to promote peaceful solutions to crises in the region by influencing domestic and international actors and organizing civil activities. In particular, the Society supports the people of Palestine in its struggle to liberate itself from the decades-long exile and illegal occupation.
The Society advocates the implementation of democracy, equality and minority rights as well as general social and economic development in the Arab countries. An essential part of the activities of the Society are development work and aid projects in the Palestinian territories and refugee camps, such as maintaining a sponsor network for Palestinian refugee children and elderly persons. FAFS publishes a newspaper twice a year.
One of the Society’s objectives is to dispel the stereotypes, still existing in Finland and the Western countries in general, of the Arab people as backward, pro-violence and anti-Western. The Society also considers the frequent, intentional confrontation between the West and the Arab world and more generally the Islamic world as a whole, unnecessary and harmful.
Many Arab countries are plagued by political crises, socio-economic underdevelopment, and lack of good governance and democracy. The relation between the Western world and Arab countries has often been one of a colonial subordination. Imperialistic powers have ruled them, often resorting to military force and bloodshed. They have drawn borders based upon their spheres of interest and supported various countries, rulers and groups to suit their own economic and strategic interests. These policies have as such created basis for many of the crises and social tensions prevalent in many of the countries. Besides the regional power policies of the foreign powers, the repression exercised by authoritarian governments has fed the violence engulfing many of the countries. The Finnish-Arab Friendship Society strongly condemns all kind of terror and violence be it by individual groups or states, as well as military invasions of these countries by foreign powers.
The decades-long crisis in Palestine must be resolved and the repression of the Palestinian people must be brought to an end. The Palestinians must have an eligible sovereign state and the question of the Palestinian refugees must be solved in a way acceptable to the Palestinians, too. The Society demands the European Union to use its political and economic influence more effectively to implement the UN resolutions and the principles of international justice in the area of historic Palestine.