42.4% of respondents to a poll from Market and Media Research (MMR) say they are against The Muslim Society building a mosque in Iceland.
According to the poll, respondents were asked how supportive or against different houses of worship they were. 42.4% said they were against a mosque in Iceland, while 29.7% said they were in favour.
Where other religions are concerned, results varied.
33.1% said they were against a Russian Orthodox Church being raised in Iceland (there already is one) while 33% supported the idea. 36.5% said they supported a Buddhist temple in Iceland while 23.5% were against it. Where the Ásatrú Society is concerned, 49.2% said they supported a temple for them being built in Iceland, while 11.1% opposed it.
The big winner from the poll was the national church, with 64.4% saying the church should be able to build more churches. 9.5% were against the idea.
Reykjavík’s two Progressive councilpersons showed up at a student party uninvited and held forth in an incident captured on video.
Vísir reports that last Friday night, political science and economics students from the University of Iceland were holding a party at Hverfisgata 33. The upper floors of this building are home to a reception hall, as well as the offices of the Progressive Party.
At some point in the evening, some of these Progressives decided to pay a visit.
A student at the scene reported that the Progressives were having an event of their own on the floor below the student party. At about 20:30, Progressive MP Vigdís Hauksdóttir came upstairs uninvited to speak with the students. The student who spoke to Vísir described Vigdís as “rather intoxicated”, saying that the guests who followed behind her – also uninvited – “were not much better”.
These other guests, also Progressives, included Gréta Björg Egilsdóttir, Jóna Björg Sætran, and Reykjavík city councilpersons Guðfinna Jóhanna Guðmundsdóttir and Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir – perhaps best known to Grapevine readers as the city council candidate who ran on a platform primarily concerning opposition to a mosque in Reykjavík. She also told television viewers the night before election day that she was concerned Iceland would have a problem with forced marriages due to Muslim immigrants.
Since alternate MP for the Progressive Party Þorsteinn Magnússon’s resignation from the party last week, several other party members have followed suit and many other people have expressed their support.
As reported, Þorsteinn resigned from the party due to the inaction of party leaders in regards to comments made by then city council candidate, and current city council member, Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir, about the building of a mosque in Reykjavík.
Þorsteinn had criticized Sveinbjörg’s conduct immediately following the initial comments in May. He resigned last week after several attempts to get the leadership of the party to condemn her actions, which he called “in no way appropriate for a civilized political party,” failed.
Þorsteinn Magnússon resigned yesterday as Alternate MP for the Progressive Party citing the party’s handling of the mosque issue. Þorsteinn said in an interview with visir.is that the reaction of the party’s leadership implies that there was nothing wrong in the party’s handling of the matter.
“The chair and most other key people in the leadership of the Progressive Party failed to publicly comment on the conduct of the party in Reykjavík during the election campaign period. Then the recent words of the chair of the party, in my view, imply the complete denial that anything was wrong … The party has in my opinion not handled the case in an acceptable way,” he commented.
Þorsteinn went on to say, “There must be a requirement that representatives of the party, whether at the national or municipal level, conduct their pleadings in accordance with it [the key policy of the Progressive Party] and reject viewpoints that are likely to encourage discrimination.”
As reported earlier, the party’s leader in Reykjavík, Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir, stated during the municipal election campaign that she wanted city authorities to go back on their promise to the Muslim Association of Iceland on a free lot to build a mosque in Reykjavík.
During the campaign, the debate, such as on the Progressive Party’s Facebook page, quickly turned into general opposition towards Muslims and a mosque in Reykjavík, resulting in support for the party surging and achieving two seats on the city council. Prior to Sveinbjörg’s statements, polls had suggested that the party would not gain any seats in Reykjavík.
Progressive city councilperson Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir says she will not fight against a mosque in Reykjavík, and that Islamophobes who voted for her “bet on the wrong horse”.
“I find this really distressing,” Sveinbjörg told Rás 2 listeners yesterday morning, DV reports. “[The Progressives] were not trying to buy votes. [Opposition to a mosque] was not a campaign issue of the Progressive Party in Reykjavík, nor the Progressive Party as a whole. This is not in the Progressive Party platform. This was just something I said in half-carelessness. I’m not excusing myself, I’m just explaining how it was,” adding that she was only meaning to question whether Reykjavík had the authority to give religious groups free plots of land.
For the record, Sveinbjörg’s actual remarks on the matter, made one week before municipal elections, were the following: “As long as we have a national church, we should not grant plots of land for buildings such as mosques or for Greek Orthodox churches. … I lived in Saudi Arabia for about a year. My opinion is not based on prejudice, but on experience. I have, for example, just returned from one of the biggest mosques in the world, in Abu Dhabi. There are no churches there. I respect the values of other countries, and think this is a given.”
“I have received emails from people asking how they can register to the Association. I was a bit surprised but very pleased by these enquiries,” says Salman Tamimi, the leader of the Muslim Association of Iceland, asked whether he had noticed an increase in the number of new registrations in the wake of the Reykjavík mosque debate.
Gunnar Smári Egilsson, the former editor of Fréttablaðið, made headlines over the weekend with his Facebook post saying that one does not need to actually become a Muslim in order to register with the Muslim Association of Iceland. He says he is therefore carefully considering joining the Association as an act of protest.
A fee is given on behalf of every taxpayer in Iceland from the national treasury to his/her registered religious association each year – while the money for those with no registered religion instead goes to the parliamentary budgetary committee. Gunnar Smári is not currently registered to any religious association.
He claims that the Progressive Party’s Vigdís Hauksdóttir is the architect of her party’s xenophobic lurch – and she is also chairman of the budgetary committee. “I doubt Vigdís will notice my ISK 9,000 a year, but I am still thinking of registering with the Muslim Association of Iceland so that its members can use these few thousand krónur to protect themselves from the attacks and lies of the Progressive Party and their supporters,” he writes.
Last night, the Progressive Party won two seats in the municipal elections, having won no seats on city council in the previous elections in 2010. As late in the campaign as May 23, polls showed the party still not holding enough to support to win a seat.
But later that same day, Progressive mayoral candidate Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörsdóttir announced she would reverse a decision made last year by Reykjavík City Council to grant a plot of land for the building of a mosque. Within days, the party gained enough to support to win at least one seat on city council.
DV reports that Sveinbjörg shared material on her Facebook about Muslims, allowing Islamophobic material posted on her page to stand. The aforementioned examples were posted by Skúli Skúlason, the founder of the Facebook group “We protest against a mosque in Iceland”, which has over 4,000 followers. Skúli has accused Muslims of committing atrocities in Europe, and has called Anders Breivík’s videos “a work of genius”. He has also repeatedly expressed his support for Sveinbjörg.
The night before elections, Sveinbjörg told Stöð 2 viewers she was worried that an influx of Muslims in Iceland could lead to forced marriages becoming a problem in this country, and said she wanted to “open a discussion on freedom of religion” in Iceland.
The other new Progressive councilperson, Guðfinna Jóhanna Guðmundsdóttir, told DV that the granting of a plot of land to a mosque was detrimental to Reykjavík’s housing problem. Svanur Guðmundsson, Guðfinna’s husband (and also the Progressive’s campaign manager), publicly asked, “Since when were Muslims a minority?”
Pigs’ heads and bloodied pages of the Qur’an left on the Reykjavík mosque site last November
Salman Tamimi, founder of the Muslim Association of Iceland, and his lawyer, Helga Vala Helgadóttir, say it is important to make a stand against the hate speech which has recently been flaring up on the internet.
An article published on visir.is on Sunday with the heading ‘Could start to build mosque after the weekend’ sparked a lot of discussion. Some of the comments on the website were particularly harsh and were directed towards Salman and Ibrahim Sverrir Agnarsson, chair of the association.
Salman is bringing charges against those who made the comments on Vísir.
Head of the Muslim Association of Iceland, Ibrahim Sverrir Agnarsson, says the final preparations are being made for the design of a mosque, scheduled to be built on a plot of land on Sogamýri, Reykjavík. “We could in reality break ground – symbolically – after the weekend,” he told visir.is yesterday.
The final design will be decided upon in cooperation with the Association of Icelandic Architects.
The mosque has been under discussion in recent days, ever since the leader of the Progressive Party in Reykjavík, Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir, said she wanted to withdraw the allocation of the plot of land to the Muslim Association of Iceland and that the issue should be voted on in a public referendum.
In the wake of recent remarks made by the Progressive mayoral candidate that she would revoke a plot of land Reykjavík granted for the building of a mosque, the party now has enough support to possibly win a seat on city council.
According to a poll conducted from May 26 to 28 by Market and Media Research, Progressive Party support rose from 5.3% to 6.8% in the past week, finally giving them enough support to win a seat on city council. This is at the cost of the Independence Party, who lost a projected seat over the course of the last week.
Progressive Party support rose in the wake of remarks made by Progressive mayoral candidate Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir that she would revoke a decision made by Reykajvík city council in January 2013 to grant a plot of land for the building of a mosque to Reykjavík’s Muslim population.