From Iceland — Reactions To Iceland's Sovereignty Celebrations: Walk-Outs, Scoldings, & Subtlety

Reactions To Iceland’s Sovereignty Celebrations: Walk-Outs, Scoldings, & Subtlety

Published July 19, 2018

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Yesterday’s celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of Iceland and Denmark signing the Union Treaty sparked a variety of reactions, due primarily to the controversial nature of the keynote speaker, Pia Kjærsgaard, of the Danish People’s Party, who is also the parliamentary president of Denmark.

As reported, Pia has on many occasions expressed anti-immigrant sentiment, in particular against Muslims, and continues to maintain a position of advocating for “Danish values”.

Her presence at the festival prompted the Pirate Party to not attend, and Social Democrat MP Helga Vala Helgadóttir walked out when Pia began her address.

One person who was very displeased with this response was Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson, RÚV reports, who described these acts of protest as “disdain and pure rudeness towards the Danish parliament and Danish people”.

Hanna Katrín Friðriksson, an MP for the Reform Party, said that while it would not be unnatural in light of history to invite the president of the Danish parliament to the event, “unfortunately the guest in question represents opinions which cast a dark shadow on the occasion.” She added that the event was “our party; not hers”, so she found no problem attending.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who also attended, nonetheless sent a subtle message to the guest of honour in the speech she delivered, Stundin reports.

“We should celebrate the great diversity which makes our society richer,” she said in part. “To insure that all of us who live here together each have a strong voice, regardless of background, regardless of religion. We must never let hate speech become legal in our society.”

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