Islamophobia hits Iceland

Members of Iceland’s Muslim community currently meet in makeshift mosques in converted office buildings

A mosque all of a sudden became the hottest topic in Saturday’s municipality elections in Reykjavík.

Lawyer Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir, the first person on the Progressive Party’s list in the capital, said that if she is elected she will take back the land provided to the Association of Muslims in Iceland on which to build a mosque. There are roughly 2,000 Muslims living in Iceland.

The city allocated land to build a place of worship to three religious groups last year: the Russian Orthodox Church, Ásatrúarfélagið (the predominant religion before Icelanders converted to Christianity around the year 1,000), and the Association of Muslims in Iceland.

Sveinbjörg only mentions Muslims.

Support for the party, which was 3% in last week’s polls, has gone up 100% over the last few days, to 6%. With 7%, a party can get one person elected to the 15-strong Reykjavík City Council.

Progressive Party MP Sigrún Magnúsdóttir took a strong stance against Sveinbjörg’s comments, saying that the party, with its long history, was a liberal party for all people and religions; her comments were against the party policy and aims.

Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, minister of foreign affairs, also spoke out (he is the first party minister to do so). That’s good and many other prominent party members and top candidates in other constituencies around Iceland have said the same.

But the quietness of the party’s chair, Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, is screaming.

He is fishing for the very few Islamophobic votes out there.

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Just wait, Mr. Progressive. Once they overrun your island there will be more than a “very few” Islamophobia votes. But by then it will be too late.