New Estonian government ministers fuel concerns over sexism, white supremacy

Helsinki — The new interior minister of Estonia on Thursday called the country’s first female president an “emotionally heated woman” for walking out during the swearing-in of a Cabinet minister accused of domestic violence.

Mart Helme made the sexist remark as other European politicians expressed alarm at the fact that both he and his son, also a newly-appointed Estonian government minister from the same far-right party, have recently and publicly flashed the “OK” hand gesture. While their use of the gesture may have been intended as innocent enthusiasm, the hand signal has been co-opted by supporters of white supremacy.Helme made the “heated woman” remark a news conference where he also accused Estonian news outlets of applying a double standard in covering abuse allegations against the now-former minister from his own far-right Estonian Conservative People’s Party, or ERKE.
President Kersti Kaljulaid, the first woman to serve as the Baltic country’s head of state, left a Monday swearing-in ceremony for a new three-party government when it was time for the appointee at issue to take the oath of office.Marti Kuusik was sworn in as technology and foreign trade minister along with the rest of Prime Minister Juri Ratas’ Cabinet after news reports featured the domestic violence allegations.Police opened an investigation to review the allegations hours later. Kuusik, a member of Helme’s ERKE party, resigned the next day, saying the probe was based on “slander” and “a terrifying media attack” against him.Helme called the reporting “an unconstitutional witch hunt.” He also made clear his dim view of the president’s decision to walk out during the ceremony and return to her seat when it was the next minister’s turn.”An emotionally heated woman can afford to do that,” Helme told reporters. “But Kersti Kaljulaid is not simply a woman, but the president of the republic.””She reads one article, becomes so emotionally upset as a woman that she makes a decision right away,” he added.Kaljulaid, who has been president since October 2016, did not respond Thursday to Helme’s comments.