MP for the Independence Party Ásmundur Friðriksson has expressed his opinion in the past days that the background of all Muslims in Iceland should be checked following the attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris last week.
On Saturday, Ásmundur wrote on his Facebook page: “Are we safe in Iceland … I ask: Has the Ministry of the Interior or the police taken any action to protect Icelanders against such attacks. Has the background of the 1,500 Muslims living in Iceland been checked and whether some of the ‘Icelandic Muslims’ have been in terrorist training camps or fought in Afghanistan, Syria or in other countries where there is conflict among Muslims.”
The MP has been harshly criticized for his comments, among others by Pirate Party MP Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, who stated such measures would be in violation of the law. He believes such comments may cause anger among Muslims, which is exactly what extremists want, ruv.is reports.
When asked whether the backgrounds of all Christians should be checked too, given that the 2012 terrorist attacks in Norway were carried out by a right-wing Christian extremist, Ásmundur responded that would be improper as this was an isolated incident.
Chair of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson told RÚV yesterday that Ásmundur’s comments do not reflect the party’s policies and that there is no reason to run a background check on Muslims in Iceland following the terrorist attacks in France.
“The best way to deal with prejudice that I know is education,” added Minister of Social Affairs Eygló Harðardóttir. “It’s very important to keep in mind that discriminating people, among other things because of their religion, can never be justified.”
The Icelandic Constitution guarantees people’s right to privacy and Icelandic law does not permit the investigation of people’s private affairs unless they are suspected of a crime.
Ásmundur pointed out on ruv.is that in other countries extremists are monitored by the authorities.
Today, Ásmundur acknowledged in an entry on Facebook that he shouldn’t have targeted one group while expressing his concern about possible terrorist attacks in Iceland. He stated that he would like to meet with Muslims in Iceland to learn about their practices. It would benefit both parties, he reasoned, as they seem to share his concern about the nation’s safety.