Icelandic Musicians Perform for Palestine

concert for Palestine

Páll Óskar, JFDR, Úlfur Úlfur, and Cyber will be performing at a solidarity and fundraising concert for Palestine in Reykjavík’s Gamla Bíó tonight, November 16. The concert is organised by the Association Iceland-Palestine and hosted by actress Þuríður Blær. All proceeds go to relief efforts in Gaza.

A press release from the association states that 11,320 people, including 4,650 children, have been killed in the Israeli Army’s air raids since the Hamas terrorist attack on Israeli civilians on October 7. It goes on to describe the situation created by Israel’s block of transport of water, food, fuel, and medicine as well as the bombing of hospitals, schools, and refugee camps. “It has never been more important to show solidarity with the Palestinian nation than it is right now. We are really proud and thankful for all of the great people who have contributed to holding this awesome concert,” the notice reads.

Protests for Palestine

The Association goes on to encourage the international community and the Icelandic government to respond to the situation in Gaza by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel and boycotting Israeli products, as well as calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Locals in Iceland have been holding regular protests condemning Israel’s attacks on Gaza as well as the Icelandic government’s response to the crisis. Iceland abstained from voting on a ceasefire in Gaza at an emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in October. The Icelandic Parliament has since unanimously passed a resolution condemning violence against civilians and calling for adherence to international laws.

Fundraising dinner

Before the event, Palestinians living in Iceland are inviting the public to a fundraising dinner in solidarity and support of the people of Gaza. The Association Iceland-Palestine encourages those who are unable to come to the concert but want to support the cause to donate to their humanitarian relief efforts by making a transfer to the following account number: 542-26-6990, Kennitala: 520188-1349 (explanation “tonleikar”).

Wr-App It Up! New Phone Game Encourages Safe Sex Practices

Iceland regularly has some of the highest rates of STI transmission in Europe and in response, the Directorate of Health has gotten creative with its newest public health campaign. Vísir reports that a new smartphone game, Smokkaleikurinn (‘The Condom Game’), is intended to increase Icelanders’ awareness about the dangers of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and improve their safe sex practices.

“Education has gone down and infections have gone up from year to year,” remarked Björn Thorvaldsson, CEO of Gamatic, which produced the game. “So we’re working to counteract this.”

The point of the game is to use condoms (branded with logos for Durex and the Icelandic pharmacy chain Apótekarinn) to catch sperm and viruses. In between sheathings, not-so-fun facts about STIs pop on the screen, as do encouragements for the player to use condoms.

Screenshot, Stöð 2
Screenshot, Stöð 2

Björn says the game even includes a cameo by “a very well-known Icelander” who will “swim onto screen” to talk about the importance of condom use in a fun way. Although Björn did not name the famous guest star, teasers showing a sperm with a high fade haircut and decked out in a sparkly red jacket point to the Icelander in question being none other than gay icon and beloved pop sensation Páll Óskar, who readers may remember from his headlining stints at Reykjavík Pride, among many others. This wouldn’t be the first time Páll has lent his gravitas to a campaign to promote safer sex practices. In 2013, Páll directed and narrated the short film “Fáðu já!” (‘Get a Yes!’) which spoke about the importance of affirmative consent in all sexual encounters. (Watch the video here, with English subtitles.)

Screenshot, Stöð 2

“Simply put, it’s not smart to not use contraception because it’s no joke to get, as an example, chlamydia, which can make women, in some cases, infertile,” concludes Björn. “Or syphilis, if it’s allowed to progress without treatment, can have really serious consequences.”

Smokkaleikurinn will launch next week and will be available in the Apple app store for iPhones and GooglePlay for Android. At time of writing, it is unclear if the game will be available outside of Iceland.

Celebratory Atmosphere During Final “Big” Vaccine Day

Yesterday marked the final big vaccination day at the Laugardalshöll arena. Approximately 10,000 individuals were vaccinated, and healthcare workers were regaled with music.

Over 75% now fully vaccinated

In the final big push of the vaccination campaign, roughly 10,000 individuals showed up to the Laugardalshöll arena yesterday to receive jabs. According to Covid.is, 75.8% of Icelanders are now fully vaccinated, with a further 12.9% having received the first dose of their vaccine.

The atmosphere in the arena yesterday was festive. “It was quite the final spurt, after this big week. Having run out of AstraZeneca doses, we were forced to create a cocktail with AstraZeneca and Pfizer,” Ragnheiður Ósk Erlendsdóttir, Head of Nursing at the Capital Area Healthcare Centre, stated in an interview with RÚV. Although the above-mentioned cocktail offers significant protection, a few opted to wait for the next shipment of AstraZeneca.

The unvaccinated can still register

As reported by RÚV, individuals waiting on their second dose of Pfizer will be called in over the next two Tuesdays. The same goes for those who have registered to receive the Janssen vaccine, and the authorities are also considering adding a small AstraZeneca day, as well. Those who have yet to be vaccinated can register through their respective healthcare providers or through the chat function on Heilsuvera.is.

Healthcare workers handling vaccinations will go on summer vacation from July 13 until August 17, and it has yet to be decided how vaccines will be administered after they return. However, a watershed moment will be reached soon when the makeshift vaccine centre at Laugardalshöll will be closed: “Yes, I expect so. Being here has been rather cosy. Really quite delightful, and the stadium managers deserve credit: they’ve been really helpful, and things have gone quite smoothly,” Ragnheiður Ósk stated.

Party into the evening

Despite the majority of Icelanders having been vaccinated, two individuals were diagnosed with COVID-19 this week. The two infections are related, and one of the individuals had already been vaccinated. Symptomatic individuals are encouraged to get tested, even if they are fully vaccinated, for they can still become infected and infect others. It is, however, highly unlikely that vaccinated individuals will become seriously ill.

Even though the final doses were administered at around 5 pm yesterday, healthcare workers who have administered vaccines at Laugardalshöll for the past weeks and months lingered in the arena. They convened to celebrate the success of their campaign and to watch a secret performer – who turned out to be Icelandic pop star Páll Óskar – step on stage (see accompanying photo above).

Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll to Live Stream Concerts

The Hjómahöll cultural centre and Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Reykjanesbær are collaborating on a series of live-streamed concerts in the coming weeks. The series, “Látum okkar streyma,” (‘Let us stream’) kicked off with a live set by singer/songwriter Ásgeir on Thursday night.

Moses Hightower will play on April 2, followed by GDRN on April 7, and Hjálmar on April 16. All concerts will begin live-streaming at 8.00pm GMT. The series will also include a behind-the-scenes tour of exhibits at the Icelandic Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum with music icons Páll Óskar and Björgvín Halldórsson (date and time TBA) and Icelandic music trivia nights hosted through the Kahoot live platform on March 27 and April 3 at 2.00pm GMT.

The concert schedule may be added to in future days and can be found on the Hjómaholl Facebook page. Live streams can be viewed online via the Facebook page or RÚV website, or listened to on Rás 2.