Vakur, a group claiming to be dedicated to “European culture” but seem to be more about Islamophobia and general hatred of foreigners, announced that they are hosting an event at Grand Hótel called “Everything you wanted to know about Islam but were afraid to ask” on May 11. The speakers at this event are scheduled to be Robert Spencer and Christine Williams.
For the unfamiliar, Spencer is the man behind the Islamophobic blog JihadWatch and the co-founder of Stop Islamization of America. The Southern Law Poverty Center has identified Spencer as a purveyor of hate speech and racism. The writings of Spencer were also greatly admired by Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik.
In fact, Spencer was denied entry to the UK in 2013, on the grounds that his presence “is not conducive to the public good”, as the Home Office put it, adding “We condemn all those whose behaviours and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form.” Williams, who has written extensively for JihadWatch, carries much the same message as Spencer: that Islam is a dangerous religion which must be wiped out.
We called Grand Hotel to ask if they were aware of who Spencer and Williams were and, if they were, how they justified allowing the conference; and if they weren’t, what they intend to do about it.
Salvör Lilja Brandsdóttir, the General Manager of Grand Hotel, told us, “We generally do not ask our guests who hire conference spaces what the conference will be about or who will be speaking. It is also not up to us to decide who speaks at a conference or to judge the subject matter,” adding, “Regarding this particular case, I need to familiarise myself with it better to comment on it.”
Óskar Steinn Ómarsson, the secretary of the Social Democrats who wrote about the matter on Medium, is concerned about the development, and believes the conference should be protested.
“It worries me that an organisation has flown in a man who is globally known for spreading hate speech against Muslims,” he told us. “I don’t agree that he should be banned from coming to Iceland, but I hope this conference will be met with a powerful protest outside of Grand Hotel.”
Reporter’s note: the original article contained a link to an article about Richard Spencer, who is of course not Robert Spencer. This link has since been redacted, with apologies to both Spencers for being confused with one another. Everything else in this article stands.