The police have officially requested information from the public on the whereabouts of the Egyptian Khedr family, after their planned deportation last week proved unsuccessful. The decision to deport the family is controversial, and several people have responded on social media under the hashtag #þaueruhjámér (they’re with me), to show support for the family as well as to flood the police with leads.
If the tips on Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag #þaueruhjámér are to be believed, the family is simultaneously in Hafnarfjörður, West Reykjavík, taking a stroll in the city centre, at someone’s house listening to Sonic Youth, driving the South Coast, and on a couch watching the Gilmore Girls. Sympathetic Icelanders also suggest the police look for the family in hiding as far as in Amsterdam’s Anne Frank Museum or as far as Seattle. The social media posts are intended to show support for the Khedr family, with multiple people claiming to be hiding the family and taking care of the children. Many also encourage the public to email the police directly at the email address provided with the request for information.
When the police arrived to escort the family of six to the airport on the day of their planned deportation, Ibrahim Khedr, his wife Dooa, and four children were not at their place of residence and haven’t been seen since. The family had requested asylum on the grounds of political persecution due to the father’s involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood. They have been in Iceland for more than two years, and their case is controversial in part since regulations state that families with children that have waited for more than 16 months for their asylum application verdicts be granted asylum on humanitarian grounds. They are believed to still be in the country.
The Khedr family’s lawyer, Magnús Davíð Norðdahl, filed a lawsuit in the Reykjavík District Court yesterday on behalf of the family and requested accelerated proceedings, stating that authorities had not done an independent and comprehensive assessment of the children’s best interest. He said the Directorate of Immigration never investigated whether the mother and ten-year-old daughter were in a particularly sensitive position as over 90% of women in Egypt had suffered genital mutilation.
“No investigation was made into whether the mother and daughter were victims of such violence or if they were at risk,” Magnús told Vísir. “The Directorate of Immigration ruled in the case of another Egyptian family early in 2019 and in their verdict, covered the frequency of female genetic mutilation in Egypt extensively but as stated earlier, over 90% of women there have suffered such violence,” says Magnús. In the 2019 case, the family was granted asylum.
The lawsuit and accelerated process request are now in the hands of Símon Sigvaldason, Chief Judge at the District Court of Reykjavík.