“We are in the final stretch of our preparations for the mosque and could principally break ground after the weekend,” Ibrahim Sverrir Agnarsson, chairman of the Muslim Association of Iceland, told Vísir yesterday.
The mosque – which will be Iceland’s first purpose built mosque- has been in the news of late in connection to this weekend’s elections. Controversy began when Progressive Party member and mayoral candidate Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörsdóttir announced she would reverse a decision made last year by Reykjavík City Council to grant a plot of land for the mosque.
As Icelandic law guarantees freedom of religion and free plots of land for building houses of worship, Sveinbjörg Birna would not have been able to follow through on her comments no matter what. Sveinbjörg Birna has however said, that she would like to “open a discussion on freedom of religion” in Iceland.
Sverrir says he is not deterred or upset by Sveinbjörg Birna’s comments.
“No, we cannot be dissatisfied with freedom of speech. We look at [Sveinbjörg’s comments] as an opportunity to educate people about Islam,” said Sverrir. “We expected there to be opposition in the community and the comments made by the Progressive Party have certainly caused an influx of followers. We see Facebook groups like Protest The Mosque In Iceland cropping up but then we also see groups like We Would Not Protest A Mosque In Iceland which has far more likes. But like I say, we are not afraid of this discourse and we would not fear a referendum on the issue.”