Facebook Maintains Popularity, Tik Tok on the Rise in Iceland

Nine out of ten Icelanders use Facebook regularly and over half use YouTube, Snapchat, Spotify, and Instagram. The data comes from a social media usage survey conducted by MMR last May. The survey also showed that 14% of respondents used Tik Tok, compared to just 0.2% last year.

Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat were the three most popular platforms (in that order) among Icelanders, unchanged from the previous three years. Facebook usage has remained consistent over the last four years, with between 89-92% of locals saying they use Facebook regularly. Instagram has grown in popularity over the same period: while 30% stated they used the platform on a regular basis in 2017, the figure this year was 55%. Spotify jumped from 26% to 57% over the same period.

Women were more likely to report using Facebook, Snapchat, Spotify, and Instagram regularly, while men were more likely than women to use YouTube regularly. While women’s usage of Facebook grew by 3% as compared to survey results from last year, men’s usage of the platform decreased by 7%.

Tik Tok showed more growth between years than any other platform in the survey, and 42% of the youngest age group (18-29) stated they used the platform regularly.

Beloved Cinema Bíó Paradís Reopens on Friday

Rekjavík indie movie theatre Bíó Paradís is reopening this Friday, following several months of closure and a The cinema had officially closed its doors on May 1 and laid off its staff after an approaching rent hike and the COVID-19 pandemic had put its existence in jeopardy. Thanks to support from the City of Reykjavík and the Ministry of Culture, the cinema is now reopening – and according to its Managing Director, it’s better than ever.

“This is Paradise like you’ve never seen it before,” Hrönn Sveinsdóttir, Bíó Paradís’ managing director told Fréttablaðið. Since the theatres’ closure in May, Hrönn has been working day and night to complete much-needed renovations to the cinema, alongside staff and an army of volunteers. “People have been showing up here, no joke, to do volunteer work, over and over and over. Weekend after weekend. People just show up. It’s amazing. We ourselves have of course been working day and night. None of us has taken a summer vacation and we have been working most weekends since the theatre was closed in March in order to try and make this a reality.” Bíó Paradís now boasts new projection screens, a new projector, and a new bar, alongside countless other fixes and upgrades to its ventilation system, washrooms, and more.

Today is the cinema’s 10th anniversary, and when it opens on Friday, there will be no shortage of films to celebrate the milestone. This weekend’s programming features four premieres and Icelandic Documentary Film Festival Skjaldborg. The festival is normally held in Patreksfjörður in the Westfjords, and Hrönn points out that this year presents a unique opportunity for capital area residents to attend. “Skjaldborg is in my opinion the most fun film festival in the world. It’s more fun than Cannes… no one should let themselves miss it!”

Justice Minister Says System is Not at Fault for Egyptian Family’s Deportation

Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir says the case of an Egyptian family that is to be deported tomorrow is not evidence of systemic issues when it comes to the treatment of asylum seekers in Iceland. The family of six has lived in Iceland for over two years and applied for political asylum. The Judicial Affairs and Education Committee is meeting to discuss the family’s case today.

Áslaug Arna says she had investigated why the family had stayed in Iceland so long without a resolution to their case. “My investigation revealed that it is not the system’s fault in this individual case,” she stated in a radio interview this morning. Asked whether she could change policy and make the decision to allow the family to stay, Áslaug responded: “No, the Minister does not make such decisions and it would be necessary to change regulations and laws. No specific issues in the system have been identified that need to be changed in order for this family to fall within it.”

The time period the family has lived in Iceland is particularly significant: last year, new regulations issued by the Ministry of Justice mandated that visas be granted on humanitarian grounds any time court proceedings regarding asylum applications dragged on for longer than 16 months. In the case of this particular family, for reasons that were not explained by the Minister, the time that they waited to have their initial application reviewed prior to the appeal is not being figured into the overall wait time. A lawyer for the Red Cross has since called this selective time-keeping “unacceptable” and said that the current law needs to be changed.

Read More: Family of Six to Be Deported

Over 12,000 Have Signed Petition in Support of Family

The decision to deport the family has elicited harsh criticism, particularly due to the four children – Rewida, Abdalla, Hamza, and Mustafa – who have adapted to life in the country and learned Icelandic. Over 12,500 have signed a petition urging the government to let the family stay. Magnús Davíð Norðdahl, the family’s lawyer, and Salvör Nordal, the Ombudsman for Children, have both criticised the decision, particularly as it violates the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iceland is party.

The two parents, Doaa and Ibrahim, told reporters they feared being arrested upon arrival to Egypt due to their previous activities in support of the political opposition in the country. They are concerned their children would be taken from them and left to fend for themselves. “I am speaking to you for my children,” Doaa told reporters. “They will be in the street after that. Please, please, please don’t let me alone.”

The family is set to be deported tomorrow.

Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 at University of Iceland’s Office and Cafeteria

Háskóli Íslands University of Iceland

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at the University of Iceland’s main cafeteria. Several university employees, including Rector Jón Atli Benediktsson, are in quarantine after an employee of the university working in the main building was found to have COVID-19.

The Cafeteria staff will be going into quarantine and screening tests, and the cafeteria and salad bar will be closed until the results are in. Háma is the largest restaurant in the university area, and it’s where all the hot food for student cafeterias under the Háma brand all over campus is prepared. These cafeterias will remain open but will not be offering soup or hot food. An email was sent to all students of the university last night stating that the university was taking all necessary precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 in collaboration with the Department of Civil Protection’s contact tracing team and the Chief Epidemiologist.

Due to the COVID-19 cases within the university, the rector encourages students to attend lessons and meeting online, wash their hands frequently and keep up with social distancing. “This is a reminder to us all that although, fortunately, the domestic infection rate is falling, the pandemic is far from over.  I would like to urge you all, dear colleagues and students, to hold meetings remotely and to follow the official infection control rules to the letter. We must continue to follow strict hygiene practices and keep at least one-metre distance from others. If we are experiencing even the mildest symptoms, we must stay at home without exception.,” writes Jón Atli in a letter to all members of the university.

In his letter, the rector reminded staff and students of the psychological therapy options available to them, reminding students that the University is offering free psychology therapy for students. He urges students who are “experiencing anxiety due to the current situation to book an individual session online.”

The university has made every effort to keep the school’s operations going for the fall term. All lectures are available online, and teachers have to be prepared to manage all schoolwork over the internet if circumstances call for it. Students are allowed to attend lessons but must keep a social distance of one metre at all times.