The police have announced that they have begun a formal search for a family of six, including four young children, who were set to be deported on September 16th. The family has been in hiding since that day, and Icelanders are responding to the police’s call for tips in a creative fashion.
Across social media, Icelanders have been using the hashtag #þaueruhjamer (“they’re with me”), in an effort to obfuscate and frustrate police efforts to find and deport the family.
Taking the matter one step further is a new website which enables people to send automated emails to the police. Each time the page is refreshed, it sends a new false location of where the family might be. These addresses are located all over the country, and people are able to send as many emails as they please through the site.
Icelanders have been overwhelmingly supportive of the family’s case, having turned out in the hundreds to demonstrate in front of Parliament against the deportation, and some 13,000 of them signing a petition demanding they be allowed to stay.
As reported, the Kehdr family came to Iceland from Egypt in early August 2018, and immediately applied for asylum. They were forced to leave their home country as the father of the family, Ibrahim Kehdr, was being persecuted in Egypt due to his political activities; namely, for supporting former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. In July 2019, the Directorate of Immigration denied their application, and so the family filed an appeal with the Immigration Appeals Board. The Appeals Board came to the conclusion to agree with the Directorate’s decision in November of the same year. This would put them just a couple weeks shy of being granted asylum in accordance with the 16-month regulation—a regulation which grants asylum to anyone whose case has lingered within the system for 16 months or longer.
However, the announcement of the date of their deportation, September 16th, only arrived earlier this month, by which time the family has been in Iceland for over two years.
While Justice Minister Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir has said that she has no intentions of making any changes to the current regulations on the matter in order to save the family, the Grapevine and others have pointed out Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which specifically states: “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”
Meanwhile, the lawyer for the family, Magnús Davíð Norðdahl, has filed an appeal with Reykjavík District Court, Vísir reports, calling for the courts to expedite the family’s case. He points out that the dangers faced by the mother of the family and their ten-year-old daughter were never formally assessed. Female genital mutilation is very common in Egypt, from where the family hails, with over 90% of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 having been subjected to the practice.
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!