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Criticizes Church for Offering Sanctuary

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Criticizes Church for Offering Sanctuary

Police.

Police remove the asylum seekers from Laugarneskirkja church. Photo: Screenshot from RÚV.

Church ministers deserve a reprimand for offering sanctuary to asylum seekers in Laugarneskirkja church last week, opines Helgi Magnús Gunnarsson deputy state prosecutor, RÚV reports.

Early morning on June 28, two young Iranian asylum seekers, who were about to be deported to Norway, based on the so-called Dublin Regulation, were offered sanctuary in the church. They were subsequently forcefully removed by police and sent to Norway. A video recording of the event was widely viewed.

One of the ministers stated at the time that their goal was to “try to put pressure on and to reach the ears of those who truly are in power and who shape policy and work methods regarding foreigners in Iceland and those who seek international protection here.”

Helgi harshly criticized the church ministers on his Facebook page for opening the church to the asylum seekers. He finds the ministers’ conduct dubious in light of the law of the land.

“Police were acting in accordance with the legal decisions of authorities, based on the law. And police arrive there, doing their duty, acting according to a decision which they were asked to perform, and they are presented like some kind of fascists.”

Helgi states it matters in this context that ministers are state employees and wonders what the consequence would be if health care workers acted in a similar way in expressing their personal opinion.

“The goal with this seems to be to serve the opinion of certain ministers with regard to immigration matters,” Helgi remarked.

“Does the state church no longer respect the law of the land or the decisions of authorities? Should ministers’ feelings weigh heavier than the law of the land?” Stundin quotes him as saying.

He told RÚV, “So far, we haven’t looked at our relatives in Norway as a fascist state. I could understand this if the men were being sent to their death, but here, we’re just following the law which says these matters should be handled where they first came up, in Norway.”

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