Solidarity Tent Comes Down, Peaceful Protest Continues

No Borders Iceland / Facebook. Palestinian protesters camp outside Iceland's parliament

Palestinians and their allies who have been stationed at a tent in front of Parliament since December 27th took that tent down yesterday, they said on Facebook. Despite this, they have vowed to continue to protest peacefully in front of Parliament until such time as their demands are met.

As reported, the presence of these tents drew the ire of Minister of Foreign Affairs Bjarni Benediktsson, who wrote a lengthy Facebook post crticising the protest, while also calling for increased police powers and tighter restrictions on asylum seekers.

This statement drew a large protest of its own last Monday, and the refugee and asylum seeker assistance NGO Solaris criticised the Foreign Minister for “us[ing] his public influence to spread misinformation about community members at their most vulnerable moment.”

Extension not granted

The protesters had a permit to camp where they put their tent, and Reykjavík mayor Einar Þorsteinsson pointed this out as well as their legal right to protest. However, their permit expired yesterday, and although they applied for an extension, this was not granted.

“As our families and friends are being massacred in Gaza, it is clear that the pressure from Icelandic politicians, who have employed extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric, has managed to make Reykjavík city back out of supporting our protest,” the protesters’ statement reads in part. “Although it saddens us that city officials are unable to find the courage to continue to support our fight amid a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, we want to honour our commitment to a peaceful and respectful protest. Thus we are taking down the tent today, as we have been asked to do.”

Seek a meeting with ministers

The protesters’ demands have included the implementation of family re-unification, a government policy wherein those with international protection in Iceland may also have that protection extended to family members. However, many of these family members are currently unable to get out of Gaza without assistance. Despite the policy of family re-unification, Minister of Justice Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir has contended the government is not obliged to help.

In addition, the protesters have implored the state to stop deporting Palestinian asylum seekers, and have called for a meeting with relevant government ministers.

“Our protest camp has been entirely peaceful and in line with all legal guidelines and permissions,” their statement says. “Police and city officials have described our protest as exemplary and without trouble. During this time the community has grown and we have felt immense support and solidarity in our camp. At the same time, ministers of foreign affairs and justice have both ignored our meeting request, despite having the authority to address our demands if they only wanted. Instead, they have publicly dehumanized us, disparaged the protest and conveyed on television interviews and through social media that our presence is unwelcome in Iceland.”

The protest will continue

The protesters have taken down the tent as asked, but they added that this does not mean the protests are over.

“As we take down this tent, our dedication to protect lives in Palestine stands strong,” they state. “If the city will not allow us to have a tent over our heads while we give everything we have to get our families out of Gaza and prevent further deportations of Palestinians, we will stay here without a tent. Our shared responsibility does not end at this tent; it extends to the ongoing pursuit of justice, peace, human dignity and the protection of vulnerable lives in Palestine. We feel that we have no choice but to continue.”

Total Solar Eclipse In Iceland Expected To Attract Thousands

total solar eclipse

The next total solar eclipse visible from Iceland will occur on August 12, 2026, with the totality beginning at 5:48 PM, Icelandic time. Iceland’s most famous astronomer and a member of Parliament both expect thousands of visitors.

Can the roads handle it?

While this eclipse is still a ways off, there is a need to prepare quickly. It is estimated that the eclipse will be best seen from Látrabjarg, in northwest Iceland. Látrabjarg is a somewhat popular destination already, but also off the beaten track, and for this reason Pirate Party MP Andrés Ingi Jónsson has posed a formal question to the Minister of the Interior asking, “What measures will be taken so that the road system will be able to handle the large amount of visitors who are predicted to seek out experiencing the total solar eclipse on the 12th of August 2026 at Látrabjarg?”

The minister has not yet responded at the time of this writing.

One of the most beautiful natural events

Sæv­ar Helgi Braga­son, better known to Icelanders as Stjörnu-Sævar, told MBL that he believes many visitors can be expected.

“A total solar eclipse is one of the most beautiful natural events you can see,” he said. “People from all over the world travel by the thousands just to experience them.” As such, he believes it fair to estimate a sharp influx in visitors to Iceland around the time of the eclipse.

As this will be happening in August, when tourist numbers are already near their peak, getting the infrastructure prepared in advance is important.

An historic event

As with most places in the world, Iceland frequently experiences partial solar and lunar eclipses. However, the last total solar eclipse that could be experienced in Iceland was in 1954.

Látrabjarg will indeed be a great place to see the total solar eclipse of 2026, as it both lies in the west of the country and is far from light pollution. That said, there are numerous other good locations from where one could experience the eclipse to an enjoyable degree, albeit for a slightly shorter amount of time.

If 2026 seems like a ways off, bear in mind that the next total solar eclipse visible from Iceland will be in 2196.

Subscribers to Iceland Review can read our interview with Sæv­ar Helgi Braga­son here.

Olympics Dream Over for Iceland

The Iceland men’s national handball team saw its hopes for a berth at the 2024 Summer Olympics in France slip away last night. Despite beating Austria 26 to 24 in a pivotal game yesterday afternoon, an unfavourable result in another match meant that Iceland would not move on to the Olympics qualifiers in March.

Iceland’s team has not appeared in the Olympics since the 2012 London games. The team has historically been competitive on the international stage and handball remains very popular in Iceland. The team’s greatest success was the silver medal in the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

Victory in a must-win game

Iceland faced Austria in a must-win game yesterday, the last one of the main round. The team’s hopes of advancing to the knockout stage had already been dashed, but an important consolation prize loomed if everything went right; placement in the Olympics qualifiers.

Iceland saw its first half lead slip away in the second half as the offence stagnated. Scoreless for a 14 minutes stretch, Iceland was still able to secure the victory by two goals in the end. Both starting goalkeepers, Austria’s Constantin Möstl and Iceland’s Viktor Hallgrímsson, played superbly. Sigvaldi Björn Guðjónsson scored eight goals for Iceland and Aron Pálmarsson seven.

France too strong

With a victory in hand, Iceland’s team would need to wait for results from the match between France and Hungary. France had already secured a spot as one of the four teams to move on to the second round, while Hungary would stand a fighting chance with a win over France. A Hungary victory or a tie would have given Iceland a shot at the Olympics qualifiers. However, France proved too dominant and secured the victory.