Three years have passed since eight Palestinian women arrived with their children in Akranes, west Iceland, from the Al Waleed refugee camp in Iraq. A book on their story, Ríkisfang: Ekkert – Flóttin frá Írak á Akranes (“Nationality: None – The Escape from Iraq to Akranes”) by Sigrídur Vídis Jónsdóttir was published yesterday.
Jónsdóttir interviewed all eight women for the book, but focuses on the stories of two. The author and the book’s heroines signed copies of the book during its launch at Gardakaffi in Akranes yesterday where it almost sold out immediately, Morgunbladid reports.
The women invited attendees to taste Arab cuisine and performed Palestinian Debka dance. “Many people came and it was pleasing to see them browse through the book, dine together, sing together in Arabic and join in on the dancing,” said Lína Mazar, one of the main protagonists.
Mazar came to Iceland with three young children. She said she is pleased with the book but doesn’t like reading it. “When I see it I remember how life in the refugee camp in Iraq was difficult, what happened and why I had to come to Iceland.”
However, she believes it will do her and the other women good to tell their story. “I hope that it will be published in other languages, like English and Arabic, so that it can have a wide-reaching effect,” Mazar said.
After only three years in Iceland, Mazar speaks good Icelandic. “I take Icelandic and computer lessons at the Akranes Secondary School. When I first came to Iceland I spoke neither Icelandic nor English and so couldn’t understand people, which was hard. But now I speak and understand Icelandic and that is much better.”
“I’m very well and I love Akranes and all of Iceland. I’m so happy that I now have a country to call my own and that my kids can go to school. I’m very happy about having a nationality now,” Mazar added, saying she does not intend to leave Iceland.
Following the publication of Jónsdóttir’s book, four symposiums will be held in Reykjavík, at the University of Iceland, on its subject matter. The first took place today (at Oddi 101 from 12:25 to 1:20 pm) and the others the next three Wednesdays.
Click here to read more about refugee arrivals to Iceland.