Authors Boycott Iceland Noir Over Clinton’s Involvement

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Approximately 60 authors will be boycotting the Iceland Noir literary festival over guest of honour Hillary Clinton, citing her stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The authors’ letter condemns Clinton’s actions and the festival’s perceived political alignment.

“Publicly opposed to a ceasefire”

Approximately 60 authors have decided to boycott the Iceland Noir literary festival and encourage others to do the same. The reason behind the boycott is the participation of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the festival as a guest of honour. Among the authors that are boycotting the festival are Hallgrímur Helgason, Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir, Bragi Ólafsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Kristín Eiríksdóttir, and Pedro Gunnlaugur Garcia.

Read More: IR speaks to Pedro Gunnlaugur Garcia

“Hillary Clinton publicly opposes a ceasefire in the ongoing genocide by the Israeli army in Palestine. For years, she has also used her broad platform to spread the propaganda of the Israeli government and false information, causing harm to the Palestinian people,” an open letter signed by the authors reads.

“By inviting her, the Iceland Noir festival took a stand, and by standing by that invitation, the festival underscored its political stance, associated with war crimes and genocide,” the statement continues. “When children are fighting, one child murdered every ten minutes, there is no time to exchange views or engage in debate. Only the stance itself matters and therefore we urge you to:

  • Take a clear stand against war crimes and genocide.
  • Refrain from participating in the whitewashing of the Israeli government and its supporters.
  • Not undermine the human rights struggle of the Palestinian people.
  • Support a free Palestine!

The statement notes that the boycott is a peaceful method aimed at expressing moral and political disapproval of the actions of individuals or institutions that harm others. It is not intended as a personal attack on the organisers or sponsors of the festival.

Intended to be a “non-political” festival

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, writer Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, who organises the event alongside Ragnar Jónasson, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and Sverrir Norland, expressed regret and understanding in the face of the boycott:

“We decided that this would be a great opportunity to invite Hillary, who is remarkable but not without controversy. So we decided to hold this special event. She is not actually at the festival itself; this is a separate event. But it’s terrible. We are completely sorry that our initiative to hold a literary festival is being dragged into conflicts that we all, of course, want to see de-escalated immediately,” Yrsa observed.

She fully understands the stance of those who protest.

“One understands that people want to do something. But I’m not sure if our small initiative is the venue to change anything in these matters. But maybe not everyone agrees on that,” she remarked. “This is supposed to be a non-political festival. And I think that most of those who participate disagree with her [Clinton] about the ceasefire, and so do the ticket holders. We don’t ask people about their politics when we are selecting participants for the festival.”

Sjón Withdraws from Literary Festival Due to PM’s Participation

Katrín Jakobs Svandís Svavars Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörns press conference

The Icelandic writer Sjón has announced his withdrawal from this year’s Iceland Noir Festival owing to the participation of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Writing on Twitter yesterday, Sjón cited “the cruel treatment of asylum seekers” by Katrín’s cabinet.

The darkest time of the year

Iceland Noir is a literary festival held in Reykjavík celebrating “darkness in all its forms.” Founded in 2013 by authors Ragnar Jónasson and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Iceland Noir began as a celebration of crime fiction but has gradually evolved to welcome writers outside the genre while also including television and film screenings alongside panels.

This year’s festival will be held between November 16 and 19 and will be headlined by Bernardine Evaristo and Richard Osman alongside Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Other notable guests include First Lady of Iceland Eliza Reid, English novelist Mark Billingham – and Icelandic writer Sjón.

Yesterday, however, Sjón announced that he was withdrawing from the festival due to the participation of PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir:

Controversial expulsion of asylum seekers

Sjón’s announcement follows on the heels of fifteen asylum seekers being deported from Iceland. Among those deported was a disabled Iraqi, in Iceland with a family of five, whose lawyer has told the media that he is preparing a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.

The treatment of the man inspired public outcry and a protest was held on Austurvöllur Square, in front of Parliament, at 5.15 PM yesterday. The protest was organised by No Borders Iceland and Solaris (an aid organisation providing assistance to asylum seekers and refugees in Iceland) and was “well attended” according to Vísir.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir spoke to Vísir in response to the public outcry yesterday, maintaining that it was “only natural for people to become upset” whenever force was applied in cases such as these:

“But what we must look into, in particular – and I think that I speak for everyone – is the treatment of the disabled person, who was among those asylum seekers who were deported. It’s extremely important that we take great pains when it comes to vulnerable groups of people and that we ensure that his rights were fully respected.”

Isavia, Iceland’s national airport and air navigation service provider, apologised for hindering the work of photojournalists during the deportations at Keflavík Airport.