Students in Hagaskóli school in Reykjavík are collecting signatures to protest the planned deportation of their fellow student, 14-year-old Zainab Safari, and her family. The Afghan family have been denied asylum and are set to be deported from Iceland. Birna Júlía Þorsteinsdóttir and Elín Sara Richter, two of the students who have been working to collect signatures, discussed the initiative on RÚV morning radio today.
The venture sprang from a meeting last week, where students from the school listened to Zainab tell the story of how her family came to Iceland. “Everyone felt it was a very moving story and was more or less crying and we felt we just had to do something and not just sit by and watch this happen,” said Birna Júlía. Zainab and her family fled their native country Afghanistan, for Iran, where they lived for a time. They eventually travelled to Turkey by foot, and from there to Greece by boat. “It was really awful and no child should have to experience that,” stated Birna Júlía.
Zainab and her family were homeless in Greece, and the students fear that if they are deported, they would end up on the street once more. “We don’t want her send to Greece where she will end up on the street and not get any education. We want her to stay with us in Hagaskóli,” Birna Júlía stated.
Elín Sara and Birna Júlía say there is a lot of support for the petition from teachers and parents at the school. They plan to hand over the petition to Icelandic authorities this Thursday. “We are going to go to the Directorate of Immigration and call upon them to reconsider the decision to send Zainab and her family out of the country.”
The students have been physical collecting signatures at Hagaskóli, but an online version of the petition is available as well. As of the time of writing, the online petition had nearly reached its goal of 5,000 signatures.