President of the Universal Society of Hinduism Rajan Zed has welcomed the planned construction in Reykjavík of what has been described as the first main temple of the Ásatrú religion to be built in 1,000 years. As reported, the 350 square meter temple will be located in Öskjuhlíð, a forested hill popular for recreation on which landmark building Perlan (‘The Pearl’) stands.
In a press statement issued today, Zed said it was “a step in the positive direction for Iceland and Europe, signaling inclusivity and freedom of religion.”
Zed said he hoped that the Reykjavík City Council would also donate some land for the Hindu temple when local Hindus were ready to build their temple.
“This seemed to be an effort of the descendants of Vikings to get back to their ancestral roots and the world should welcome it,” Zed said. Stressing interfaith dialogue, Zed said that “in our shared pursuit for the truth, we can learn from one another and thus can arrive nearer to the truth. Dialogue may help us vanquish the stereotypes, prejudices, caricatures, etc., passed on to us from previous generations.”
Today there are 2,400 people registered in the Ásatrú Association of Iceland while 80 percent of Icelanders are members of the Lutheran State Church.
The announcement of the construction of a temple in Reykjavík has garnered significant media attention from abroad. The Washington Post, The Guardian and the BBC are among the media to cover the story.