Jón Sigurðsson, former chair of the Progressive Party and Minister of Industry and Commerce, criticized the party’s comments on the building of a mosque in Reykjavík and the PM’s reactions to them on Stöð 2 yesterday, calling it a “calculated strategy.”
Jón said that even though the Progressive Party has always been nationalistic, the party’s leader in Reykjavík, Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir, had gone too far her comments.
Two weeks ago, during the municipal election campaign, Sveinbjörg stated that she wanted city authorities to go back on their promise to the Muslim Association of Iceland on a free lot to build a mosque in Reykjavík.
Sveinbjörg told visir.is that she feels the same about other religious associations. “While we have a national church we shouldn’t allocate lots for buildings like mosques or churches for the Greek Orthodox Church [she meant the Russian Orthodox Church].”
However, the debate, such as on the Progressive Party’s Facebook page, quickly turned into general opposition towards Muslims and a mosque in Reykjavík, resulting in support for the Progressive Party surging and the party achieving two seats on the city council.
Jón stated that Sveinbjörg’s move, along with the party’s chair Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson’s reactions to it—refusing to comment on it at first, then mainly criticizing the reactions of others—was part of a strategy to win votes.
And because the strategy worked, Jón said he didn’t think other party members would make much fuss about it, a development he considered to be very serious.