From Iceland — What Are Icelanders Talking About?

What Are Icelanders Talking About?

Published January 10, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

One of the weirdest attempts at igniting a social media shitstorm in 2019 came in late December, when news broke that Reykjavík would be doing away with downtown’s green UFO-looking public toilets in 2020. The coin-operated capsules, seven in all, have cost the City of Reykjavík about 40 million ISK per year to maintain via the contractor who operates them, and long story short, the city simply chose not to renew the contract. Nonetheless, there were numerous earnest attempts at tacking this affront on to the growing list of grievances people have against the City Council majority, with lurid forecasts of the streets running yellow with effluence. Much could be criticised about the City Council majority; the decommissioning of seven public toilets was a weird hill to die on.

Birgir Þórarinsson, an MP for the Centre Party, has managed to cause a small sensation, as his party is often wont to do. In a New Year’s Day speech at a local church, which was then forwarded to the media, he proposed that Iceland should only accept refugees if they’re Christian, and that Christianity should be taught in primary schools again. Birgir’s great concern for the preservation of Christian values apparently does not apply to members of his own party, who were amongst those recorded speaking abusively about their female colleagues in the Klausturgate scandal. Perhaps Birgir should open his Bible to Matthew 7:3 before sounding off on the subject again.

The annual debate about fireworks got rolling again last month. Environmentalists were diligent in pointing out the tremendous amount of air pollution that fireworks generate, in the form of particulate matter and various heavy metals, including lead and chromium. Others pointed out how fireworks terrify animals. While polling showed an increase in approval for a ban on fireworks, this was not reflected in sales, which stayed pretty much the same as last year. 

The honeymoon might be over when it comes to Iceland as a hot tourist destination, and The Independent has joined the fray of international media outlets advising people not to visit Iceland on account of their being too many tourists here already, and that the country is expensive. This is a refrain we’ve been hearing for years now, though, yet many people still come to the country each day. That said, hotel bookings have been on the decline, as have Airbnb listings, so where all these people are staying is anyone’s guess.

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