Farmers Association Head Accepts Minister's Apology, But The Matter Isn't Over, Lawyer Says

Farmers Association Head Accepts Minister’s Apology, But The Matter Isn’t Over, Lawyer Says

Published April 11, 2022

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Following a racist remark made by Infrastructure Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson at a conference of the Icelandic Farmers’ Association (BÍ) on March 31st, wherein he referred to BÍ director Vigdís Häsler, a woman of colour, as “this black one” that he did not want his picture taken with, RÚV now reports that Vigdís and Sigurður Ingi finally met again, wherein he apologised in person.

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Vigdís reportedly accepted the apology, writing on Facebook, “Today, Sigurður Ingi and I had an honest, honourable and open discussion. The reason for the meeting hardly needs to be mentioned, but at the meeting Sigurður made, in my estimation, a sincere apology, which I have accepted. I regard this matter concluded, and definitely concluded on my part.”

It bears mentioning that this apology followed initial denials that he had said what he said, in particular from Sigurður Ingi’s assistant, Ingveldur Sæmundsdóttir, who called reports on the remarks “complete nonsense”, despite her not even being present when the incident took place.

While Sigurður Ingi would later own up to his words, many opposition MPs called for his resignation. He was staunchly defended by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who repeatedly said that his earlier apology should be enough–well before the person directly affected, Vigdís herself, had given any indication of whether it was indeed enough.

RÚV now reports that attorney Claudia Ashanie Wilson believes Sigurður Ingi also owes an apology to many others in Iceland.

“As has been reported, he has apologised to Vigdís and I think it’s not hyperbolic to ask that he also do the same for others that his remarks had an effect on,” she said. “It was of course very disappointing to hear a government minister and the chair of a political party use such language. It’s not possible to call it anything else but prejudiced speech.” She added that people do not make remarks like this without also thinking them in private, “but hopefully I’m wrong about that.”

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