Iceland is currently participating in the European-wide Action Week against Racism, during which the Icelandic Human Rights Center organizes various events aimed at celebrating multiculturalism and combating prejudice.
The initiative includes an advertising campaign where commercials run in different languages, thanking immigrants for having chosen Iceland as a place to settle down and enriching Icelandic culture with theirs.
From the website of the Icelandic Human Rights Center.
“[This] is a chance to throw racial prejudice into the garbage bin, explore one’s feelings and consider whether they are based on prejudice, examine where they come from and then people must realize that prejudice is always based on ignorance,” Gudrún Dögg Gudmundsdóttir, managing director of the Human Rights Center, told Fréttabladid.
“In light of economic difficulties we want to work towards general tolerance in our society, where everyone has equal opportunities,” Gudmundsdóttir said. She explained that racial discrimination appears differently in every country and culture.
“In Iceland people are struggling with hidden prejudice rather than publicly declaring racist views. Icelandic legislation is rather limited in this respect […]. The system is inactive when it comes to protecting people against racial discrimination even though there are provisions in that regard in the penal code,” Gudmundsdóttir stated.
Hidden prejudice means that people of foreign origin have a more difficult time than others receiving the services they’re entitled to, finding employment or even getting into clubs, she explained.
“I have a suspicion that Icelanders haven’t yet realized that we art part of a multicultural society. We have to become better at welcoming the thousands of people who have moved here, want to participate in society and become part of Iceland’s culture and the Icelandic nation,” Gudmundsdóttir concluded.
Tomorrow, March 21, is the Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The date was chosen by the UN to honor the memory of the 69 anti-apartheid demonstrators who were killed in Sharpeville, South Africa, in 1960.