Former Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr has once again spoken up about the Icelandic Name Committee, calling it “discriminatory” and only applicable to a “fraction of Icelanders”.
“In Iceland, you can be named Jesus,” Jón Gnarr posted on his Facebook, Vísir reports. “The Name Committee can’t stop that. It doesn’t matter if you spell it with an ú or a u. You can also be named Muhamed or Muhammed. The naming laws pertain mostly to only a fraction of Icelanders. What kind of law discriminates against people in this way? Why, for example, may [Independence Party MP] Elín Hirst have the surname Hirst but I can’t have Gnarr? Is Hirst cooler? More Icelandic? Are all animals equal, but some are more equal than others? In Jesus’ name, answer me!”
To underline his point, Gnarr posted a screenshot from the Íslendingabók, which shows just how many people in Iceland have or had “Jesus” as a part of their name. He later posted that he did not intend to single out Elín directly, mentioning for one other example Óttar Proppé, who was with him in the Best Party and is now an MP for Bright Future.
Gnarr has long opposed the Name Committee, in part because of his personal struggles to have his name legally changed to Jón Gnarr, as he has been known to the general public for decades.
The Name Committee is a government body which approves or rejects new names being added to the Icelandic lexicon. Their decisions are based on historicity (i.e., if the name has been used on at least one occassion in Iceland before) and whether or not the name can be declined according to Icelandic grammar. This latter criteria has allowed for an Icelander to name his daughter Ripley, after the protagonist of the Alien movies. Ripley, like more traditional Icelandic names such as Fanney and Sóley, can be declined according to Icelandic grammar.
The Name Committee has come to international attention most recently when a 10-year-old Icelandic girl named Harriet was denied an Icelandic passport, because her name is not legally approved.