Police resorted to pepper spray during protests outside Hilton Reykjavík Nordica yesterday where participants in a NATO seminar had arrived to attend a reception. Some protestors burned the NATO flag and were arrested.
Originally the reception was supposed to take place in the Culture House on Hverfisgata in the city center but was relocated in the last minute. The seminar begins today and will be attended by around 300 representatives of NATO member countries.
The duty officer told Fréttabladid that the flag burners had also crossed the police line. Although it is not illegal to burn all flags, it is certainly illegal to burn national flags and the NATO flag, the duty officer explained, adding that police are not keen on people lighting fires at such occasions.
Ragnar Adalsteinsson, advocate to the Supreme Court, was uncertain whether burning the flag of an international organization is a punishable act, although people have been arrested for flag-burning in Iceland before.
In the 1930s, famous Icelandic authors and poets Thórbergur Thórdarson and Steinn Steinarr were convicted in the Supreme Court for burning a Nazi flag that had been raised in Siglufjördur, north Iceland.
Click here to read more about protests in Iceland.