From Iceland — Parliament Debates: Can You Call The US President A Fascist?

Parliament Debates: Can You Call The US President A Fascist?

Published February 1, 2017

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Anna Domnick

Two Pirate Party MPs have taken exception with US President Donald Trump and his policies, with both of them calling him a fascist. To this, one conservative MP took issue, kicking off a debate that hearkens back to the early 20th century in Iceland.

Vísir reports that Trump was a topic of discussion in parliament yesterday, not least of all due to an Icelandic citizen being barred entry to the United States on account of being born in Iran – one of seven countries Trump has blocked by executive order.

“I am worried because the President of the United States is a fascist, misogynist and racist,” Pirate Party MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir told parliament, adding that she is also worried that Trump will institute torture and secret prisons again. Another Pirate Party MP, Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir (seen above), expressed similar concerns, saying, “I feel it is important to call things by the right name. This behaviour that the president has shown – with authoritarianism, by denying information and the common values that the American people have – this is fascist behaviour.”

To this, Independence Party MP Óli Björn Kárason took great exception, RÚV reports.

Óli, in fact, blamed Obama for Trump’s seven-country ban, referring to the fact that these seven countries were listed as “countries of concern” by the Obama administration in 2015. Bear in mind, however, that at no point did Obama ever issue an entry ban on people from these countries.

“I believe it is inappropriate how people are talking here in parliament today,” Óli said. “I believe it is inappropriate to compare the President of the United States, though he may to us be unpleasant, with being a fascist. I think this is going too far. We can disagree with everything he says and everything he does. But we do not call the American head of state, a democratically-elected president, a fascist,” perhaps unaware that both Hitler and Mussolini were also democratically elected.

For greater context, it must be pointed out that Óli has himself argued for greater restrictions against asylum seekers to Iceland, telling listeners of the radio station Útvarp Saga that “we should greet with a hard fist of steel all those who came to Iceland to abuse our welfare system”, echoing similar policies made by Trump about immigrants in the US.

For many Icelanders, the incident is reminiscent of a famous case in Icelandic history that went all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1934, Icelandic author Þórbergur Þórðarson wrote a newspaper article wherein he called Adolf Hitler a sadist. The German Consul not only objected; they sued Þórbergur, and the Icelandic Supreme Court ordered him to pay 200 ISK, or about 80,000 ISK in today’s currency.

For the record, the US embassy has issued no statement of intent to sue either of the Icelandic MPs who called Trump a fascist.

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