From Iceland — MP Criticises Church For Providing Asylum Seekers Sanctuary

MP Criticises Church For Providing Asylum Seekers Sanctuary

Published July 4, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Ekki fleiri brottvísanir

A conservative MP has called for the church’s funding to be cut for providing Iraqi asylum seekers with sanctuary, accusing the church of obstructing justice – an accusation contradicted by video evidence.

Stundin reports that Independence Party MP Brynjar Níelsson accused the church of “trying to prevent the police from enforcing the law by housing asylum seekers who were facing deportation.” Here he refers to last week, when the Laugarneskirkja church, with the blessings of the Bishop of Iceland, provided sanctuary to asylum seekers facing deportation. As such, he now supports separation of church and state in Iceland.

As can be seen in the video below, at no time did any church officials obstruct the police as they dragged out and handcuffed an Iraqi teenager, who has subsequently been deported to Norway, from where he will in all likelihood be sent to Iraq (article continues after video):

Kristín Þórunn Tómasdóttir, the parish priest of Laugarneskirkja church, told reporters she was baffled by Brynjar’s remarks, as they do not hold up to scrutiny, especially in light of the above video.

“By coming together for this moment in church, we were symbolically and practically showing support for people seeking refuge,” she told reporters. “We were also expressing our hope that the ancient custom of church sanctuary could influence the state to change the policies regarding asylum seekers, stop the assembly-line deportations of people seeking international protection in Iceland, and instead take a responsible, meaningful stance.”

The case has sparked criticism against the Directorate of Immigration (UTL), from amongst other sources our President-Elect and the Bishop of Iceland.

The deported Iraqis are currently sitting in Norwegian jail, where they face almost certain deportation to southern Iraq. Raisan Shihmani, an asylum seeker who fled Iraq in September 2015 and has been in Iceland for seven months now, told The Grapvine last week he recently received notice that he will be deported to Norway on the grounds of the Dublin Regulation. His friends are amongst the Iraqi asylum seekers already deported to Norway. In protest to his impending deportation – and the deportations of all asylum seekers – he is now on the sixth day of his hunger strike.

In related news, the Independent reports a bomb blast in Baghdad last weekend has killed 165 people, and wounded hundreds of others.


Why The Hell Are We Sending People Back To Iraq?

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