Tomorrow, Icelanders will gather in front of parliament to bring a singular message to their government: we want more refugees and asylum seekers.
The event in question, Solidarity With Refugees In Iceland, is being organised by No More Deportations, No Borders Iceland, Against Hate in Iceland and Friends of Refugees.
“For the past few days we have been shocked by Trump’s actions against refugees and other immigrants in the US,” the text reads in part. “It is truly distressing to witness such discrimination on the basis of nationality and religion. We would like to use this opportunity to come together in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers to show that they are welcome here in Iceland!”
Organisers point out that public opinion is on their side. A Market and Media Research poll on the subject showed that 88.5% of Icelanders believe the government should welcome more refugees. This culminated in a grassroots movement, Syria Calling, wherein thousands of Icelanders offered clothing, food, and even space within their own homes for housing refugees.
“[O]nly 11,4% of applicants were granted asylum or permits on humanitarian grounds in 2016,” the organisers continue. “We continue to hear from asylum seekers that common decency and human dignity are not yet guiding principles in the asylum process. Children, who make up a quarter of those who seek asylum in Iceland, are particularly vulnerable.”
The point about granting asylum for humanitarian reasons is especially pertinent in light of recent news that Amir Shokrgozar, a gay Iranian man engaged to an Icelander, was last week deported under cover of darkness to Italy, where he was raped in an asylum seeker facility in 2010. The penalty for homosexuality in Iran is death.
“We will come together to stand in solidarity and show our will for positive change,” the organisers conclude. “We want to show how welcome all refugees and asylum seekers are here. We do not want discrimination and hate, such as is being so dramatically demonstrated elsewhere, to take root here. Iceland can do so much better. In these turbulent times we should be a model for the international community in our conduct towards refugees and asylum seekers.”
The event begins at 16:00, tomorrow, at Austurvöllur, the square in front of parliament. All are welcome, and the protest is promised to be family-friendly.