A new report from the Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission (ECRI) says that Iceland should be doing more to combat discrimination, in part by granting permission for Muslims to build a mosque and by filling in gaps in current immigration legislation. The report also believes that the law should include a “provision that expressly considers the racist motivation of an offence as a specific aggravating circumstance.” Some key elements from the report include:
Iceland has not established a specialised body to combat racism and discrimination based on “race”, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin. The Multicultural and Information Centre, which is now responsible for providing assistance and services to immigrants, is located in the extreme north-west of the country; this means that most immigrants no longer have easy access to specialised support services. Changes to the Icelandic Nationality Act mean that the repeated commission of petty offences for which a fine is prescribed can definitively exclude a person from obtaining Icelandic citizenship. While the conditions for citizenship now also include passing Icelandic language tests, funding for language classes for foreigners has been cut. The media frequently disclose the citizenship or ethnic origin of persons suspected of criminal activity although it bears no relevance to the case. One television channel and some Internet sites engage in hate speech against Muslims. The Muslim communities in Iceland still do not have permission to build mosques in which to worship, despite one application pending for more than 12 years. Pupils of immigrant background have a significantly higher drop out rate from secondary school than Icelandic pupils. Asylum seekers still have no possibility to appeal to an independent and impartial judicial mechanism empowered to consider the merits of the case. Not all children in the asylum procedure have access to compulsory school education. There is still no mechanism for the investigation of allegations of police misconduct which is independent of the police and prosecution authorities.
ECRI publishes a report each year on the progress different European countries are making when it comes to fighting racism. Iceland’s full report can be read here.
A legal dispute between WOW Air and Icelandair will be appealed to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). A decision from the Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision made by Reykjavík District Court, which ruled that the dispute would not go to EFTA. The original request to take the dispute to the international authority was made by Icelandair and Isavia, the company which operates Keflavík International Airport. WOW Air originally filed the legal complaint, against both Icelandair and Isavia, as well as The Competition Authority (ICA). The dispute centres around the parsing out of flight times between the two airlines,
An alert journalist in the right place at the right time recorded killer whales frolicking off the coast of Bólungarvík, in northwest Iceland. Víkiari, the news website of Bólungarvík, reports that Guðbjörg Stefanía Hafþórsdóttir spotted three killer whales off the coast of Ósvör, just east of Bólungarvík. As they swam closer, they eventually made their way into Bólungarvík harbour. Guðbjörg managed to record two of the whales, swimming about 10 metres from shore, which you can see below. Killer whales only number in the hundreds around Iceland’s shores, and seeing them swimming so close to shore is an even rarer
Volcano watch is still in full swing, but no eruption yet. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of the day’s Bárðarbunga news so far: 13:23 – The closure of the area north of Vatnajökull glacier has already lead to significant financial losses for the local tourism industry, reports RÚV. In light of recent evacuations, mountain huts and guest accommodations at Kverkfjöll and Askja have had to close now for the winter, nearly a month earlier than planned, despite nearly full bookings for the remainder of the season. 12:53 – Should this eruption occur, Friðþór Eydal, a spokesman for ISAVIA, which
Iceland’s National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, have backtracked their recent decision to take prayers off air following a meeting with the Bishop of Iceland. As reported, RÚV planned to remove daily morning and evening prayers, plus programmes in which scripture is read out and replace it with a single once-per-week programme examining theology, the culture of religion and society. Morning prayers and the nightly programme, Orð Kvöldsins (Evening Words) featuring scripture will remain on the radio’s roster. “It is important that words of prayer are heard in the media age,” said Bishop of Iceland, Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, who welcomed the decision to keep morning prayers,
In anticipation of Bárðarbunga’s possible eruption, social media users have been busy sharing their thoughts on the volcano. Many of these tweets are helpful, pointing travellers to vital resources but an alarming number use Bárðarbunga as a segue into some kind of Cowabunga joke. Presented here is a selection of tweets collected by the Grapevine. Helpful Dear people, please stay updated through safetravel.is regarding #bardarbunga volcano. — I heart Reykjavík (@IheartReykjavik) August 19, 2014 Pretty cool visualisation of #Bardarbunga‘s seismic activity. Updated every minute. http://t.co/H7u0ic5fJW — Ómar Kjartan Yasin (@omarkj) August 19, 2014 Follow the development in #Bardarbunga at our Facebook page https://t.co/EeMH2MgxKB
An evacuation order went into effect yesterday in the area north of Vatnajökull glacier, in light of ongoing earthquake activity around the Bárðarbunga volcano, reports RÚV. According to Víðir Reynisson, department manager of Iceland’s Civil Protection and Emergency Management, the evacuation has been a success though he could not be sure that some had not been left behind. “The evacuation has gone well so far,” Víðir told RÚV last night. “We don’t expect the evacuation to be finished until maybe 3 am… This sort of thing just takes time. There are bad roads and such. What will happen next is that the Icelandic Coast Guard will