Iceland’s National Church, Þjóðkirkjan, has been on a lot of folks’ minds this month, after the spotlight was shone on the “freedom of conscience” exemption that ministers have if they want to refuse to marry a same-sex couple for personal religious reasons. Critics charge that the exemption is unconstitutional, with the National Queer Organisation announcing that they are considering taking the State to court over the matter. The church has countered that it is unlikely that any minister would refuse to marry a same-sex couple, and in a poll of 131 ministers conducted by Fréttablaðið, only two said they would evoke the exemption (one of those said he would have no problem marrying a pair of lesbians, however, as they can make babies).
Iceland’s government showed one small sign of softening its position on asylum seekers last month; in particular regarding the Dublin Regulation. After the Supreme Court ruled that two asylum seekers were to be deported to Italy, members of Parliament asked Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal whether she stood by statements she made on September 17—namely, that Italy was amongst the countries considered “unsafe” to deport people to. The Minister made no attempts to spin her prior remarks, confirming she hadn’t changed her mind, and that she would tell the Directorate of Immigration to postpone the deportation. In the meantime, the cases will be re-examined. For now, the asylum seekers are safely ensconced in Iceland.
Iceland’s pig farms were also in the news quite a bit, and not for reasons that spell anything good for pigs. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority found that all of Iceland’s pig farms kept animals that suffered pressure sores resulting from a lack of movement, and at least one (so far unnamed) farm keeps pigs in stalls too small to even allow them to stand up. This has put Iceland’s pig farmers on the defensive, with every farm but one refusing to allow reporters to visit and film their grounds. Not exactly a vote of confidence.
One of our most popular stories lately highlighted that literally thousands of foreigners are needed to fill jobs, both existing and yet to come, in the tourism industry. This estimate is itself based on estimates, though, as it is predicted that some 1.5 million people will visit Iceland next year. That’s about five times the actual population of the country. Maybe we should kill two birds with one stone and just hire tourists for the jobs? Only time will tell.
Everybody loves skyr. Some people love skyr so much that they go around calling things skyr that clearly aren’t skyr. Arla, a Swedish company, has been marketing a product they refer to as “skyr” in Scandinavia, even evoking quaint rural Icelandic imagery for their TV spots. None too pleased with this, Iceland Dairies filed an injunction against Arla to stop using the word “skyr” to describe the product. And, they won. By the time you read this, every Arla product that claims an association with skyr should be completely off the shelves in Finland. Pahoillani, Suomi!
Whaling season has come to a close again. In all, 184 whales—29 minke whales and 155 fin whales—were culled. The news was not lost on the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Animal Welfare Institute who, within days of the announcement, sent us evidence that Eimskip and HB Grandi—two very large companies in the fields of shipping and fishing, respectively—are actively involved in the whale meat trade. This is no the most surprising revelation, but rest assured that if whaling is banned, neither Eimskip nor HB Grandi will lose much money.
Icelanders don’t eat very much whale meat, but they sure love KFC. Last year, the nation spent 2.4 billion ISK on the fast food poultry, coming to over 7,400 ISK for every man, woman and child in the country. And this is part of an upward trend—Icelanders just keep buying more and more of that delicious, deep-fried chicken. So if you really want to try “traditional Icelandic food,” you might want to start by paying The Colonel a visit.