Demagoguery and Islamophobia (KH)


katharinahauptmann02_dlThis summer, the City Council gave permission to build a mosque in Reykjavík, which will be Iceland’s first actual mosque. Like in many other countries, people have uttered concern about this, luckily, though, only very few in this case.

One person who is campaigning fiercely against the building of said mosque and who publicly speaks out against Islam itself is former mayor of Reykjavík Ólafur F. Magnússon.

I cannot believe what utter nonsense this man wrote in his letters to Iceland’s big newspapers and in this column I will finally get the chance to vent my disgust and anger.

These letters are nothing but a fear-mongering, obsessive, ridiculous, paranoid and discriminating manifest of somebody who seems to have lost it and obviously doesn’t have his facts straight. Islamophobia at its worst.

It is one thing to utter concern about something with hard facts but in this case there are simply no facts but pure polemic.

For instance, Ólafur calls the building of a mosque an “insult to Iceland’s history, especially the people of Vestmannaeyjar."

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, perhaps I should do both.

The oh so dramatic events in Iceland’s past Ólafur is referring to are the so called Turkish Raids (Tyrkjaránið)  that took place in Iceland (mostly the Westman Islands) in the summer of 1627 when pirates from Morocco and Algeria pillaged Icelandic fishing villages and took all together close to some 400 slaves.


I think Ólafur’s offensive and silly comments are way more disgusting!

Following his logic, building a mosque in Iceland in 2013 is an insult to the people of the Westman Islands, which were raided once almost 400 years ago? Yeah, that makes total sense!

Iceland is the only country in the world that has been raided by some foreign force and therefore will never ever get over this.

Let’s not mention that Icelanders are the descendants of Vikings who are famous for being gentle, well-behaved pacifists who most certainly never, ever took any slaves.

Elliði Vignisson, mayor of Vestmannaeyjar (the Westman Islands), responded to Ólafur's comments regarding the Turkish Raids and stated that the people of the Westman Islands “never connected it to some specific religion."

There you have it, Ólafur, you can relax now.

In his Sarah Palin-esque rants, Ólafur also claims that Muslims were taking up too much space in Icelandic society and a mosque would threaten Iceland’s culture and safety. That seems right, I mean about 0.2 percent of the entire Icelandic population are Muslims. Wait, what? 0.2 percent?

The bottom line is that these stupid and appalling claims about Muslims made by Ólafur F. Magnússon are an insult to the Icelandic nation, an insult to their intelligence and sanity.

Yes, I am not Icelandic but I live here in this country and the people of Iceland are very well-educated and tolerant people (with a few misguided exceptions) and not a bunch of hillbillies. So let’s cut the crap already.

The Icelandic law guarantees freedom of religion and the freedom of practicing that religion. It is just right that the Muslim congregation of Iceland is finally getting their house of prayer which they had to wait for for 13 years.

What Mr Magnússon seems to forget is the fact that we are talking about Icelanders here, meaning Icelandic Muslims, not just immigrants, but also Icelanders.

For further outrage read this excellent article.

Katharina Hauptmann –

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.