Islam in Iceland
After spending over 50% of my life away from my native country, I've come to realise that racism in Iceland is a little overwhelming for my tastes. No Icelandic person would ever consider themselves as being racist, but it is shocking to me, how a country that (prior to the economic crash of 2008) is well off, and majority of it's citizens (and most certainly the Generation Y-ers) travel abroad every year, can be so intolerant to people of different ethnic backgrounds. Afraid that those living in Iceland were bearing the brunt of the situation, I conducted a radio interview with the head of the Islamic Association of Iceland. Approximately one-thousand Muslims live in Iceland (note that the population of the country is only 300,000 so one-thousand is a decent number), but their request of building a mosque as gone unanswered for eleven years. When I mentioned this to an adult (male in his 50s) acquaintance of mine, he replied with: "And I hope it'll stay unanswered for another eleven years. A mosque has no place in Iceland." Really? Because, as far as I'm concerned, whether there's a mosque here or not, those who are not practicing Muslims won't be affected. As I interviewed a Palestine-born Icelandic citizen about the status of Muslims in Iceland, I quickly realised that Icelandic people do one thing right: They are not openly racist and their discrimination of anything that isn't Icelandic is only shared with other Icelanders. The Palestinian man I interviewed told me that in the 30+ years he's been in Iceland, he has never felt discriminated against. He said that for the women that wear the hijab (no one in Iceland wears the burqa) may get looks, but in a society where a hijab isn't "normal", that is to be expected. He says he doesn't have any record of anyone ever feeling unwelcomed. This, of course, made me very happy. I'm happy to know that the country I was born in, is open and welcoming to those that happened to be born elsewhere. I'm less happy about the fact that people are two-faced and can't accept that not being born to Icelandic parents in Iceland doesn't mean you're someone to be feared or disliked.
On the Radio
I've submitted my piece to the National Radio in Iceland. When I suggested I'd do the story (absolutely free) I got rather half-assed responses. It is true that people fear the things they don't know and the things they don't understand. And my radio piece is very pro-diversity, as I intended it to be. I wasn't looking for a two-sided argument. I was looking for an insight of what it's like to be a Muslim in a very small Lutheran country. I'd love to attach my piece here for people to listen to, but it was all done in Icelandic so it'd be somewhat of a futile effort.
The National Radio has yet to get back to me whether or not they'll play my interview. I've got a feeling that they're afraid it'll cause 'havoc' in the country by its listeners because it's "pro" non-Icelanders. Really is a shame. And what's even a bigger shame, is that all too many Icelandic people don't see their discrimination as a problem...
About the Author
The Racist Truth
Islam in Iceland