From Iceland — Senegalese Sisters Among Those Granted Citizenship

Senegalese Sisters Among Those Granted Citizenship

Published January 29, 2021

Photo by
Vísir/Sigurjón

Two of the people recommended for citizenship by the parliamentary Judicial Affairs and Education Committee yesterday were Elodie Marie and Régine Marthe Ndiaye, Vísir reports. Their case drew national attention late last year when it was brought to light that despite having lived in Iceland for seven years, their family was facing deportation.

As reported, Regine Martha and Elodie Marie were both born in Iceland after their parents, Bassirou Ndiaye and Mahe Diouf moved here from Senegal seven years ago. Bassirou and Mahe both have jobs in the country, and the two girls attend school and kindergarten.

Bassirou and Mahe said that they left their homeland because he is a Christian and she is Muslim, and such marriages invite persecution in Senegal. It is also not a safe country for women and children are at great risk of genital mutilation. The parents expressed deep fear of what might happen to their daughters if they take them back.

The couple had been fighting for a residency permit in Iceland on humanitarian grounds for the last six years to no avail.

However, their case drew national attention and protests, including a change.org signed by nearly 22,000 people. The petition cited, among other things, the Convention of the Rights of the Child which states in Article 3 that “The best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration when public or private social bodies, courts, authorities or legislative bodies take measures concerning children.”

Days later, Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir publicly criticised the handling of the case, saying, “This is of course an unacceptable time [to wait]. This also shows, regarding work permits and the importance of changing and opening them up, when people want to come to Iceland and work, that we have more opened eyes for people from outside the EEA.”

Now all but insured citizenship—Parliament seldom rules against recommendations from the committee—it appears as though the family are now here to stay at last.

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