Iceland News Alert: What Brought You Here? - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland News Alert: What Brought You Here?

Published March 22, 2018

Photos by
Art Bicnick

Of all the things that go on in Iceland on any given day, few of these events will make it into the international press. However, as our world grows smaller, more and more Icelandic stories are getting global attention. Here, we summarise some of the top Icelandic stories that have captured attention from around the world.

The death of a raccoon in Iceland has been inexplicably popular in news feeds. The beloved trash panda, commonly seen across North America, is not native to Iceland and their sightings are exceedingly rare. This particular raccoon, spotted by a man and his dog in southwest Iceland and subsequently killed, is an enigma. We don’t know where it came from or how it got here. Sure could have had a better reception, though.

The medieval volcano that helped convert Icelanders to Christianity, Eldgjá, has been all over the news. This volcano erupted in the late 10th century, and Iceland officially converted from paganism to Christianity around the year 1000, but there is more to this than simple correlation. Völuspá, the first poem of the Poetic Edda that dates from this same time, ominously predicted that the fall of the gods would be heralded by fire and the darkening of the skies. While it defies belief that Icelandic settlers would scrap their entire faith over this tenuous connection, it may have certainly played a part.

A recent column by conservative commentator George F. Will has once again breathed life into wild misreporting of Icelandic attitudes towards Downs Syndrome. Even the Holy See has chimed in, saying that eliminating Down Syndrome is a “hate crime”. For the record: women in Iceland are not required to accept pre-natal screening, nor are they required to abort if the fetus shows signs of Downs. Further, Iceland has not at all eliminated Down Syndrome, and that there are adults in Iceland with Down Syndrome is easily verifiable. Get your facts straight, Your Holiness!

Finally, people cannot seem to get enough of the Icelandic men’s football team, as the World Cup looms ever closer. President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson’s recent remarks that “we all know someone who has made the national football team” has played into the stereotype of Iceland being an unbelievably small and tight-knit community. There is, of course, some truth to what Guðni’s saying, even if it might not be 100% fact. While Icelandic government officials are considering boycotting the World Cup on account of it being in Russia, the President remains a huge football fan, as the video below attests (direct link for those with embeds blocked):

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