Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir, who on Sunday set up the Facebook event Kæra Eygló Harðar – Sýrland kallar (‘Dear Eygló Harðar – Syria is calling’) as a forum for people to show support for resettling refugees in Iceland and offering them assistance, says it has been a full-time job trying to remove hate speech and racist comments on on the page from people abroad.
“I have eight good friends volunteering to hold off the hate speech. I have seen that people in European racist forums have been sharing the page and the news connected with it and what they are actually doing is attacking the site. Because it is so much this is in effect like spam which is taking over,” Bryndís told Vísir, adding that friends in the U.S. and Australia are among those helping out to ensure that the site is monitored around the clock.
Bryndís says that she has always been against censorship. “We are taking care that those people can be heard who really are reflecting on the issue and considering whether in this context we should raise the number from 50 [the original number of refugees to be resettled in Iceland over the next two years]. When people are thinking about it in this context then this is fine and natural. But as soon as this becomes attacks on certain social groups then we have to delete them. Otherwise they would drown the page.”
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Bryndís acknowledges that there are problems here in Iceland and that people should discuss them. “Of course we have to discuss best practices, priorities and problems here at home.” She argues, however, that poverty exists in every country and that these problems do not mean that Iceland cannot receive refugees.
Despite the flood of negative comments, Bryndís says that the overall discussion on the site has shown that there are many more positive voices out there than negative ones. “We so often forget this in the daily blabber.”
As reported earlier this week, Bryndís’ initiative has received widespread attention from the world’s media. Fifteen thousand people have joined the site. It is also worth noting that there have also been many offers of support from abroad.