Iceland: Progressive Party in hot water over anti-mosque comments

Sveinbjörg Birna SveinbjörnsdóttirSveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir, first on the Progressive Party’s list in Reykjavík for Saturday’s municipal elections, voiced her opposition to the proposed mosque in Reykjavík on Friday. Reykjavík City Council has already allocated a lot for the mosque and construction is set to begin this year.

Sveinbjörg told that her opinion was not based on prejudice but on experience, having lived in Saudi Arabia for one year. She said that it was important for people to abide by the customs in a country in which they move to.

The Progressive Party has, through its long history, been a liberal center party and the latest comments have caused an upset in the party. Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and other Progressive Party ministers have not commented on Sveinbjörg’s statement but Hreiðar Eiríksson, who is fifth on the party’s list in Reykjavík, asked to be removed from the list in protest of Sveinbjörg’s comments.

According to the latest polls, the party will not secure any seats in Iceland’s three biggest towns – Reykjavík, Kópavogur and Hafnarfjörður, home to 60 percent of Iceland’s population. In Reykjavík, polls suggest that the Progressive Party have a three percent support rating.

There are 2,000 Muslims living in Iceland.

Iceland Review, 26 May 2014

See also “Mayoral candidate would revoke land for mosque”, Reykjavík Grapevine, 26 May 2014

Last November the mosque site was desecrated with pigs’ heads and bloodied pages of the Qur’an. See Islamophobia Watch, 29 November 2013

Update:  See “Foreign Minister: anti-mosque comments not party line”, Iceland Review, 27 May 2014

Update 2:  See “Prime Minister refuses to comment on mosque issue”, Iceland Review, 28 May 2014

Reykjavík mosque site desecration