The Red Cross in Iceland has started a campaign called “Vertu Næs” (“Be Nice”), which encourages Icelanders to “respect people in the country irrespective of origin”.
“There are about 320,000 inhabitants in Iceland and 10% of them, around 30,000 individuals, are of a different origin,” a statement on the campaign’s English-language page reads. “In recent years it has become noticeable that some people receive discrimination due to their land of origin, for instance when applying for jobs or accomodation. This can lead to serious consequences for our society as a whole.
“Therefore the Red Cross Society decided to initiate a two year campaign to encourage people to do a little self reflection, become aware of how they communicate with others of different origin, skin colour or religion and see if they can do better.”
Þórunn Lárusdóttir, the leader of the project, told RÚV that many Icelanders believe racism and xenophobia are on the rise. Fighting against this includes communication.
“We have to open the discussion from an objective point of view about the multicultural society we live in,” she told reporters. “Ten percent of the nation is of foreign origin. This is why we need to talk about this, to see what needs to be done and how.”
Part of this includes the conference “Prejudices and racial discrimination in Iceland”, which will be held tomorrow from 13:00 to 15:00 at Reykjavík City Hall. In addition, Icelanders are encouraged to take a test on the Icelandic version of the campaign page called “Do you have prejudices?”