Single Mum Denied Apartment Because She's Muslim - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Single Mum Denied Apartment Because She’s Muslim

Published November 23, 2015

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photos by
Jóhann Heiðar Árnason

Marwa Salameh, a single mother with two children and a Palestinian asylum seeker, was told she couldn’t rent an apartment in Reykjavík because she’s muslim, reports Vísir.

marwa salameh exchange

In the exchange seen above, the landlord first writes in Icelandic “I don’t want muslims” then later, explains in English that she “do not rent muslims, PARIS” clearly referring to the Paris terrorist attacks – as if that had some kind of bearing on the situation at all whatsoever.

After first arriving in Iceland roughly one year ago, Marwa stayed in a hostel until getting her current apartment in the Norðurmýri neighbourhood of Reykjavík. As the lease is up in one month, Marwa needs to find a new place for her and her children to live, in a city where it is notoriously difficult to find apartments for rent.

“I don’t feel like there is racism here in Iceland,” Marwa told Vísir. “This is the first time, really. I’m very shocked about what happened to me.”

Marwa says that she attempted to explain to the landlord that she was not a terrorist, but an asylum seeker trying to provide a peaceful life for her children. Her please fell on deaf – or in this case xenophobic – ears.

Marwa told Vísir that she has had trouble sleeping since the incident.

“If other people, like this woman, don’t want me to rent their apartments, then I will be on the street with my boys,” said Marwa. “If it’s a question of religion or whether you’re a muslim or not, then where can I live in Iceland? That’s a big problem.”

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