Thousands attended yesterday’s Independence Day protests, and the Prime Minister was given quite a reception.
As can be seen and heard in this video, Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was met with boos, shouts, drumming and whistles from protestors, many of them holding red cards aloft. The noise was so loud that for many, the Prime Minister’s traditional Independence Day speech was barely audible.
RÚV reports that police estimates of protest attendance was between 2,500 and 3,000 people. The grievances of those protesting include the passage of strike-breaking legislation, lowering taxes on wealthy fishing companies, and breaking campaign promises, ultimately calling for the resignation of the government.
Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson was amongst those in attendance, who told Vísir that he could not recall a protest like it before.
“That the protests should happen on this day reflects a situation that we have to respond to,” he told reporters.
Halldór Auðar Svansson, a member of Reykjavík City Council for the Pirate Party, pointed out that June 17 is also the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, an Icelandic folk hero who was himself well-known for protesting the Danish rule of Iceland.
“People should have in mind that protests of this kind are not aimed at the holiday specifically,” he said. “It’s about hostility for the government.”
Not everyone on city council was pleased with the protests, however, as Guðfinna Jóhanna Guðmundsdóttir, Reykjavík city councilperson for the Progressive Party, lambasted the protest on Facebook, rhetorically asking “do these people not care about the children that are enjoying themselves on this day[?] I hope these people can pull their heads out of their asses for just this one day.”
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