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Interior Minister: ‘Muslims Must be Left in Peace’

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Interior Minister: ‘Muslims Must be Left in Peace’

Reykjavík mosque

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal has emphasized the need to respect Muslims in Iceland as equal citizens after comments by her fellow MP for the Independence Party Ásmundur Friðriksson that the background of all Muslims in Iceland should be checked following the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, visir.is reports.

“Muslims are just citizens in Iceland like the rest of us. They are Icelanders who must be able to live their lives in peace. They enjoy all rights like other people. I certainly hope that people will not start making them feel threatened here,” Ólöf, who is also minister for immigration and human rights, said.

As reported, Ásmundur wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday: “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.

Ólöf emphasized that researching the background of Muslims in Iceland, as Ásmundur said he would like done, has not been discussed at the ministry. “Of course not. First of all, there is no authorization to do something like that and of course it is out of the question to group people together like that.”

She added that while it is important to take the events in Paris very seriously, Icelanders, who stand for free values and human rights, including religious freedom and freedom of speech, should promote them whenever they can.

Ólöf said that it was important to trust in Iceland’s democracy and in the institutions which uphold the law and regulations. “... And trust ourselves to champion a diverse state, both in opinion and religion,” she concluded.

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