REYKJAVIK – Plans to launch the construction works of the first mosque in Iceland have been causing lots of uproar in the Nordic island, amid increasing hate speech on the social networking websites against the religious minority.
“The consequences could be very, very serious for our community,” Salman Tamimi, founder of the Muslim Association of Iceland, told visir.is.
The uproar surrounding plans to construct Iceland’s first mosque started two weeks ago when Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir asked city authorities to go back on their promise to the Muslim Association of Iceland on a free lot to build a mosque in Reykjavík.
“While we have a national church we shouldn’t allocate lots for buildings like mosques or churches for the Greek Orthodox Church [she meant the Russian Orthodox Church],” Sveinbjörg told visir.is.
Giving her comments during municipal election campaign, Sveinbjörnsdóttir, the Progressive party’s leader in Reykjavík, sparked anti-Muslim uproar in social media websites.
The hate comments were also dominant in comments on a news article published on visir.is on Sunday with the heading ‘Could start to build mosque after the weekend’.
Some of the comments on the website were particularly harsh and were directed towards Salman and Ibrahim Sverrir Agnarsson, chair of the association, Iceland On Review website reported.
The comments angered Tamimi, founder of the Muslim Association of Iceland, and his lawyer, Helga Vala Helgadóttir, who declared plans to bring charges against those who made the comments on Vísir.
“They just wanted to get votes and it didn’t matter how they got them,” he said, referring to the Progressive Party’s anti-mosque comments.
The Nordic country of Iceland has one of the smallest Muslim communities in the world with only 770 people registered with the official Muslim organizations in the country (as of 2013).
This corresponds to 0.2% of the population of Iceland.