Progressives Speak Out Against Chairman's Perceived Xenophobia - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Progressives Speak Out Against Chairman’s Perceived Xenophobia

Published May 27, 2011

Members of the Progressive Party have sent out a strongly worded statement against party chairman Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson’s recent remarks about foreigners in Iceland.
As Grapevine reported, Sigmundur has asked the Minister of the Interior to present parliament with information regarding crimes committed by foreigners in recent years. In particular, he wants to know how many crimes were committed ten years ago as opposed to today, if there is “reason to believe that groups of foreign criminal gangs have engaged in organised crime in Iceland and if so, has there been an estimation as to how many such groups” there are in Iceland.
Earlier this month, he also asked what percentage of Iceland’s prison population were foreign born, in 2011 and in 2001. More recently, Sigmundur said that Icelandic investors were more desirable than foreign ones, as Icelanders would be more likely to have the nation’s best interests at heart than foreigners.
Apparently, many members of Sigmundur’s own party have taken issue with these remarks, Eyjan reports, as they have issued a public statement strongly condemning this behaviour.
“Questions or discussions that connect foreigners with crime or foreigners and illness work to increase prejudice against foreigners,” the statement reads in part, “and decreases tolerance and empathy. Few nations have as good a relationship with other nations as Icelanders do, and we should have contact with other peoples that is based on equality, welcoming those who come here for the short term or long term, just as Icelanders are accepted by other nations when they travel abroad.”
By this we can take it to mean that while Sigmundur Davíð might want to use fear of foreigners as a political tactic, the Progressive voters are not entirely on board with this idea.

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