REYKJAVIK – A hate campaign against Iceland planned first mosque has backfired after a growing number of Icelanders contacted the country’s leading Muslim association asking to register as members to protest hate sentiments.
“I have received emails from people asking how they can register to the Association,” Salman Tamimi, the leader of the Muslim Association of Iceland, was quoted by Iceland on Review on Tuesday, June 10.
“I was a bit surprised but very pleased by these enquiries,” he added.
Iceland's First Mosque Faces Uproar
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.
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.
Rejecting increasing anti-Muslim sentiments, Gunnar Smári Egilsson, the former editor of Fréttablaðið, wrote a Facebook post saying that one does not need to actually become a Muslim in order to register with the Muslim Association of Iceland.
In his post, which made headline, Egilsson added that he was carefully considering joining the Association as an act of protest.
According to Icelandic laws, a fee is given on behalf of every taxpayer in Iceland from the national treasury to his/her registered religious association each year.
For those who have no registered religion, their money goes to the parliamentary budgetary committee, headed by Progressive Party’s Vigdís Hauksdóttir.
Attacking Hauksdóttir “xenophobic” policies, Egilsson said that his registration at the Islamic Associaition would offer them a few amount to protect them from such attacks.
“I doubt Vigdís will notice my ISK 9,000 a year, but I am still thinking of registering with the Muslim Association of Iceland so that its members can use these few thousand krónur to protect themselves from the attacks and lies of the Progressive Party and their supporters,” he wrote.
The protest support has been widely welcomed by Iceland Muslim association leader who said that Icelanders could offer support by joining their Christian associations as well.
“It is not necessary to be a Muslim to be a member and everyone is naturally welcome,” Salman Tamimi said, urging people to leave the Progressive Party than to leave the National Church of Iceland.
“But I think it is best for people to stick to their own religions and what they truly believe in,” he added.
“There is room in Christianity to fight for the human rights of others.”
Tamimi added that the rules of the Muslim Association of Iceland allow membership for any member on agreement with its goals.
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.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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