This Saturday, Siðmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, held a symposium titled “Need We Fear Islam?”. Sigurður Hólm Gunnarsson, ergotherapist and member of the association, was among the speakers.
Writing at skodun.is, Sigurður Hólm says that he answered the question “both yes and no. Of course all peace-loving democratic people should be concerned about fundamentalist religion, and fundamentalist Islam gives cause for concern. Nonetheless, I pointed out that we need not fear the religion alone, but fundamentalism in general, as well as this hostility that seems to exist against some social groups.”
Sigurður writes that during and after the symposium, he received multiple threats, not from Muslims but from from Islamophobes. One member of the audience shouted “in the name of Jesus” that the speakers would all go to Hell. Another commented on Facebook, leaving what comes across as a murder threat to Sigurður: “You don’t interpret Islam for others unless you are on their side, which is a capital offense, you know that high treason is punishable by death? True and fair, right? I think so.”
According to Sigurður, his key message was that “we must not be scared of criticizing Islam rather than any other religion,” while he says that people must be “free to practice their faith as long as they do not hurt others directly.”
Other speakers at the symposium included Ibrahim Sverrir Agnarsson, Chair of the Icelandic Muslim Association, Guðrún Margrét Guðmundsdóttir, PhD anthropology researcher, and Helgi Hrafn Guðmundsson, Pirate member of Alþingi.