Presidential Reception for New Icelanders

Forsetaembættið. New Icelanders welcomed at presidential residence Bessastaðir

President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and First Lady Eliza Reid hosted a reception yesterday for all those who had received Icelandic citizenship this year. The couple were both present at the event to welcome the group of new Icelanders and congratulate them on their newly-acquired rights and responsibilities as Icelandic citizens. It was the first time such a reception has been held by Iceland’s president.

In his speech to the group, Guðni emphasised the importance of healthy patriotism and defining Icelandic nationality with broad-mindedness, tolerance, diversity, freedom, solidarity, compassion, and empathy. The First Lady echoed his sentiments, while also addressing the challenges of learning the Icelandic language, which takes time.

The idea for the reception came from Eliza, who is an immigrant to Iceland herself. “When I became an Icelandic citizen in 2008 I was notified by a form letter in the mail,” the First Lady wrote on social media. “I thought it was a big deal, a moment to celebrate! But the letter didn’t necessarily indicate that Iceland thought it was a big deal that I was now among their ranks. So it has long been a dream of mine that we would be able to recognize and formally welcome new citizens in some way. It underscores to new Icelanders the importance and responsibility of citizenship, while reminding those of us ‘older’ Icelanders that we too have obligations to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute fully to society and help to make it a richer nation for all of us.”

Guðni is not running for re-election in Iceland’s ongoing presidential race. Eliza stated that while she will not have influence in the matter in future years, she hopes the welcoming tradition continues.

Pussy Riot Performs at LungA Art Festival in Seyðisfjörður

Pussy Riot

The protest and performance art group Pussy Riot took the stage at the LungA art festival in Seyðisfjörður last night, RÚV reports. This is the first time that the group performs in Iceland after two of its members were granted Icelandic citizenship.

“Cannot express the honour in words”

The LungA art festival, which is held annually in Seyðisfjörður in East Iceland, began last Monday, July 10. Among the performers at the festival is Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist protest and performance art group, which took the stage last night.

Pussy Riot’s show, referred to as a play, is entitled Riot Days and is based on the eponymous book by Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina. As noted on the group’s website, Riot Days is “a story of resistance, repression, and revolution in a mixture of concert, rally, theatre, and political happening.”

Read More: Velvet Terrorism (Iceland Review speaks to Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina)

Pussy Riot has recently toured parts of Europe with Riot Days, with the LungA art festival being the last stop on the journey. As noted by RÚV, this is the group’s first concert in Iceland since two of its members received Icelandic citizenship. Speaking to RÚV, Maria Alyokhina stated that she was grateful for having been granted citizenship. “I cannot express this honour in words.”

Maria also commented on the group’s performance: “I think it’s very important to find these bridges and use the common language of art to talk to each other because the war is about discrimination and hatred.”