Members can sign in here.

About the Author

Asza Valdimarsdottir
Stringer (Reykjavik, Iceland)

Born in Iceland, raised in Malaysia and Thailand. Did an Undergraduate degree in English Literature in Ontario, Canada and an MA in International Broadcast Journalism in London, United Kingdom. Currently a stringer for an International (undisclosed) News Agency in Iceland. Oh, and Asza is pronounced 'ah-sha'.


The Racist Truth

Published 22nd September 2010 - 9 comments - 7863 views -

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...

Category: Human Rights | Tags:


  • Andrea Arzaba on 22nd September 2010:

    Maybe you could translate this racism as a fear of…being “changed”? (Maybe they are not used to multiculturality?) Do you think tolerance is something that grows little by little, or would you say it just exists or not?

  • Asza Valdimarsdottir on 23rd September 2010:

    Andrea: I’m not a sociologist, so I’m not quite sure. I think there are places in the world where ‘natives’ would be curious about a new culture coming in; and then I think there are places where the ‘natives’ don’t want the new culture coming in because they feel it’ll diminish their own. If people have never been exposed to anything unlike themselves, it is hard to judge whether or not they’ll be tolerant, no?

    Lara: It was a half-hour interview that’d hardly make sense in small translated pieces, and it would take me way too long to translate. How about this: If I get to go to Africa for TH!NK, I’ll translate the whole thing! wink

  • MrPong on 16th December 2013:

    Look, Iceland has a population of 300 000 people.
    What do you want ?
    Dump 10 000 africans a year and achieve a cultural genocide ?
    If Iceland people want to live among themselves and remain as they are, what’s the problem ?
    Who have the right to say they are wrong ?
    Is any body asking africans to accept more non africans in their own country ?
    Same for the chineses, nobody ask them to go for more “multiculturalism”

    But somehow, it’s ok to require it for european countries ...
    Go figure

    I live in a country (France) where cultural tensions are getting worse by the years.
    We’ve practiced mass imigration, and it’s not pretty.
    It’s not really a catastrophe, but it’s hot
    We’ve not choose this immigration, we undergo it.

    Multiculism is like cooking.
    Thinking it always end with a positive result is naive.
    Dumping all ingredients available in one saucepan is not the best way to achieve a good meal, to say the least.
    There are combinations that are dangerous, definitely.

    I won’t enter into details because that would be too long and complex, but here’s an example:

    Imagine a building, filled with 50 chineses and 10 tibetans, or 50 pakistanis and 10 indians, guess what will happen ?
    Or worst, Tutsi and Hutu people from Rwanda…
    Yes, chances are, one group will oppress the other because of deep cultural tensions.

    Again, Iceland people are only 300 000 ...
    Immigration, if not totally controlled, is a threat on the short-term for them, for their culture, and even for their demography/représentativity, it’s obvious.
    If one can’t understand that, then this person is delusional and/or totally naive if not just plain stupid.


    Many people refer to the USA as a model for multiculturalism.
    I like the American culture, the intent behind their constitution, their history, but quite frankly, regarding racial and/or cultural tensions, it’s obvious that there are huge problems there, it’s far from being a success story.

  • Braxton Stephensson on 28th January 2014:

    Whether perpetrated though naivety, ignorance or malevolence the mouthings of these “One-World” types all contribute to the same end—the Destruction of Western Civilization and White Genocide.

Post your comment

  • Remember my personal information

    Notify me of follow-up comments?

    --- Let's see if you are human ---

    What is missing: North, South, West? Add a questionmark to your answer. (5 character(s) required)