A young man in “corpse paint” was thrown out of Reykjavík’s “Festival of Hope” this weekend, after walking around the event sporting a leather jacket with a particularly incendiary Biblical excerpt attached to the back, Vísir reports. “It was actually just a social experiment for me. I wanted to see how they would approach me, and they just threw me out,” said Sigurboði Grétarsson.
The “Festival of Hope,” was a Christian conference at which the American Evangelical minister Franklin Graham was the headline speaker. Graham is known for his outspoken anti-gay views, and so the Festival garnered a great deal of criticism in Iceland, not least because of the National Church’s involvement. (The National Church stated that it did not know about Graham’s involvement when it agreed to the event, and did issue an apology for its participation.) As a protest, many Icelanders bought tickets to the event with no intention of attending, in the hopes that Graham would speak to an empty auditorium. These tickets were later annulled.
In his own protest, Sigurboði walked around the Laugardalshöll sports complex where the Festival was being held for 40 minutes before being stopped by security, and informed that he would have to remove the verse from his jacket or leave the festival. The verse in question was Ezekiel 9, verse 5 – 7, which advocated for the pitiless massacre of the unrepentant in Jerusalem, including women and children.
Sigurboði said that he didn’t make a scene or bother people at the event. “A woman came over to me and said she hoped I might find God, and that was fine…But this security guard asked me right away what I was thinking and why was I walking around with that verse on my back. That verse is repulsive, but it is in the Bible,” said Sigurboði, who is himself an atheist.
“Personally, I am not fond of the Bible, but that is just my opinion. This festival was, in fact, just as disrespectful to me as I was to it. I was thrown out, not by force, but I stood my ground.” Sigurboði says that the whole exchange bored him, however, so he decided to just leave and get a burger.