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Car Sticker Leads to Terrorism Suspicion

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Car Sticker Leads to Terrorism Suspicion

Police car

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

A Belgian couple who have visited Iceland 15 times and drive a car with an Icelandic national sticker on the back, from the Norröna ferry, were stopped by armed police in Switzerland recently. The reason was the sticker, as the police thought the ‘IS’ might refer to Islamic State.

According to Johan Van Cutsem, who works as a photographer, he and his wife were traveling through Switzerland on their way to Sardinia when they were stopped on March 28—only a week or so after the terrorist attacks on Brussels, which Islamic State has claimed responsibility for.

“We were near the city of Luzern when we noticed that a police car was following us. It caught up to us and the policemen directed us to stop the car. We did so and two policemen, in bulletproof vests and with guns, approached the car,” Van Cutsem says. “They stared at us for a few minutes and I could hear one of the policemen talking on his radio while the other watched us with his hand on his gun.” Van Cutsem says the atmosphere at that moment was very charged—until they asked if the couple had ever been to Iceland, and they responded yes, they had.

“The policemen became friendlier and apologized for having bothered us,” he says—explaining that they had been stopped because of the ‘IS’ car sticker, marked with the branding of Smyril Line, the company that runs the ferry to Iceland.

“The sticker seemed suspicious, especially as we were driving a car from Belgium,” Van Cutsem explains. “We found it all really remarkable.”

Van Cutsem decided to contact mbl.is about the matter in order to warn Icelanders about the possible danger of driving on the mainland with ‘IS’ stickers. The sticker had been on the couple’s car for 12 years, since they first traveled on the Norröna ferry. They have traveled on the ferry several times since, and describe themselves as ‘Iceland-dependent’.

The Swiss police asked them to cover their sticker while they were traveling in the country—which they did with duct tape.

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