Solidarity Demonstration In Support Of Refugees; Against Nationalists - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Solidarity Demonstration In Support Of Refugees; Against Nationalists

Published August 15, 2016

Photos by
Art Bicnick

A demonstration will be held today in front of parliament to show support for refugees and asylum seekers, in Iceland and around the world, while also demonstrating against a group of anti-immigration nationalists who plan to hold their own demonstration at the same place and time.

Stundin reported last Thursday that a group calling itself Íslenska Þjóðfylkingin (The Icelandic National Front), a nationalist anti-immigration group with an emphasised distaste for Muslims, have planned a demonstration in front of parliament at 15:00 today. There, they intend to express their opposition to recent revisions to Iceland’s immigration laws, and to protest against the building of a mosque in Iceland (which has been over 15 years in the waiting), amongst other things.

In response, hundreds of Iceland are planning on having their own demonstration, at the same place and time, to not only show their opposition to these nationalists, but to voice their support for refugees and asylum seekers worldwide.

“We are all first and foremost people and we all deserve dignity and respect!,” the organisers write in part. “We have never witnessed a higher number of refugees and asylum seekers in the world, and Iceland and the Icelandic government needs to make a bigger effort in assisting those in need, which is not the issue of one country or one man, but us all.

“A small group of Icelandic nationalists have organised a protest against the new law on foreigners, which we believe is a step towards a more just and humane system, but according to their message it is targeted against refugees and asylum seekers. It is unacceptable and therefore we have organised a solidarity meeting at the same time!”

Racist, monoculturalist parties have been attempted in Iceland before, with very little success. The openly racist Iceland First disappeared shortly after its existence was announced, and even Pegida in Iceland has been all but invisible from the headlines. Most recently, flyers from the Nordic Resistance Movement calling for recruits were delivered to people’s homes.

However, this is not to say xenophobia is absent from Icelandic politics. In 2014, the Progressive Party of Reykjavík was criticised by many for engaging in Islamophobic campaign tactics. This rhetoric has dwindled to a whisper since municipal elections.

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