Falasteen Abu Lidbeh has become the first immigrant to speak as a legally elected representative at Reykjavík City Council.
Lidbeh replaced Sigrún Elsa Smáradóttir, local government MP for the Social Democratic Alliance. Lidbeh was born in Jerusalem in 1978. She came here with her family from Palestine in 1995. Lidbeh had to start her education in secondary school when she was sixteen when her peers were graduating.
Her mother, Amal Tamini, preceded her in politics because she took a seat in the local government of Hafnarfjördur a few days earlier.
“I would have liked to precede her,” Libdeh said to RÚV television.
“The key to Icelandic society is the Icelandic language. Although I have only been to school here for a very short time I have managed to grasp it pretty well. I was lucky because I made Icelandic friends who have been very kind to me and who have taught me Icelandic. That’s how I have integrated with Icelandic society and I feel that I belong here. I can say with pride today that I am Icelandic,” said Libdeh to Morgunbladid.
Libdeh is the representative of the Social Democratic Alliance in the human rights council of Reykjavík city. She was naturally selected to speak at the city council when extensive discussions about human rights took place there yesterday. She is therefore the first immigrant to take a seat in the city’s government.
Libdeh has a particular interest in human rights and issues regarding immigrants. She is particularly devoted to issues regarding the children of immigrants.
“We have to ensure that they master the Icelandic language and have real choices in education and be equal to their peers so that they can become real members of society,” she said in her speech at the city council.
She said that it was possible to reach housewives of foreign origin through the schools. “This group often lives in total isolation and has limited opportunity to integrate into society.”
Libdeh opposes any kind of payments to people who stay at home and stated that kindergarten fees should not be so high as to prevent people from seeking places for their children in kindergartens which in Iceland are types of full day preliminary schools.