More Progressives Leave Party over Mosque Issue

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More Progressives Leave Party over Mosque Issue

Alþingi parliament

Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament. Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

Since alternate MP for the Progressive Party Þorsteinn Magnússon’s resignation from the party last week, several other party members have followed suit and many other people have expressed their support.

As reported, Þorsteinn resigned from the party due to the inaction of party leaders in regards to comments made by then city council candidate, and current city council member, Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir, about  the building of a mosque in Reykjavík. 

Þorsteinn had criticized Sveinbjörg’s conduct immediately following the initial comments in May. He resigned last week after several attempts to get the leadership of the party to condemn her actions, which he called “in no way appropriate for a civilized political party,” failed.

Almost immediately following Þorsteinn’s announcement, Ásta Hlín Magnúsdóttir, former chairman of the Progressive Party’s youth wing, and daughter of current MP for the Progressive Party, Líneik Anna Sævarsdóttir, also made public her resignation from the party, DV reports. “I left the Progressive Party in early June. That decision was mostly based on the fact that I am unwilling to compromise when it comes to basic human rights and equality,” said Ásta on her Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Snædís Karlsdóttir, who was listed fifth on the Progressive Party’s ballot in Reykjavík in the parliamentary election last year, is poised to take over Þorsteinn’s vacated seat as alternate MP.

She has, however, yet to come to a decision as to whether she still wants to represent the party in parliament. 

When asked whether she found the Progressive Party’s campaigning acceptable, Snædís said: “No definitely not. I understand Þorsteinn’s position very well and appreciate people who follow their own convictions.”

Hreiðar Eiríksson, who was listed fifth on the Progressive Party’s ballot in Reykjavík municipal elections in May, also left the party following the central committee meeting last week. He announced his decision on his Facebook page on Saturday saying that “the joy [he] felt working towards what [he] believed to be the vision of the Progressive Party has been replaced by disappointment and shame.” 

According to Hreiðar the leadership of the Progressive  Party has “failed the morality test” and claimed that chairman Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson’s reaction “can hardly be understood in any other way but as complete support for Islamophobic propaganda.” 

The other current alternate MP for the Progressive Party, Fanný Gunnarsdóttir, disagrees with Þorsteinn.

“As it appeared to me, I wasn’t particularly outraged,” said Fanný of the campaign in an interview with DV. She then added that the candidates had only pointed out different interpretations of laws regarding church lands.

Jóhanna María Sigmundsdóttir, another MP for the Progressive Party, has stated that she will remain with the party for the unforeseen future. She claims that it is not the responsibility of MPs or the party leadership to interfere with candidacies in local elections. 

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