A school teacher intends to file hate speech charges against radio station Útvarp Saga, telling Grapevine they spread “propaganda day in and day out.”
Gunnar Waage, a music and Spanish teacher of 10th grade students at Hólabrekkaskóli in Reykjavík, told Grapevine that he will be filing hate speech charges against the radio station Útvarp Saga.
As about half of his students are immigrants, Gunnar has been following the recordings from their call-in show, Línan laus (“The line is open”), wherein immigrants in general and Muslims in particular are often discussed. Gunnar has sent Grapevine many instances of hosts and listeners alike making contentions and even criminal accusations about immigrants and Muslims that are not supported by any available evidence.
Gunnar told us his Muslim students are having “major issues in their lives” and “being harrassed in and out of school” for some of the prejudicial beliefs about Muslims, many of which are put forward on Útvarp Saga.
“They seem to think that there are no consequences to the way that they preach,” Gunnar said of the station. “But those are the consequences – that there are kids and young people suffering the causes of this behavior. This is happening all over the country.”
Arnþrúður Karlsdóttir, one of the hosts of Línan laus, has been saying that there are known members of ISIS in Iceland. She has provided no evidence for this claim, and police are not currently investigating for any presence of ISIS in Iceland.
“She’s lying about this,” Gunnar told us. “She’s actually corrupting and scaring her listeners. This to me is very serious. She’s scaring people into becoming more prejudiced. Both her and Pétur [Gunnlaugsson, another host of Línan laus] claim that they are practicing freedom of speech. I would say, practice freedom of speech and express your opinions, but don’t spread falsehoods. Base your discussions on facts. But Útvarp Saga are just spreading all this propaganda, day in and day out.”
Eyrún Eyþórsdóttir, who heads the hate crimes division of the capital area police, told Stundin that they take the matter “very seriously.” However, the one snag is that for police to investigate hate speech or a hate crime, the person who files the report must usually be a victim of said hate speech or hate crime. So how the matter will proceed remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Gunnar maintains that this is a fight that must be fought.
“I want to raise the issue, and I want to know what this department is capable of,” he told us. “I’m not a journalist, but I know that just saying you have a source doesn’t give you a license to cook things up.”
Útvarp Saga has been accused of hate speech before, and not just regarding immigrants and Muslims. Last April, the station came under fire with accusations of hate speech against members of the LGBTQA community.
Gunnar intends to formally file charges against the station this week.