Iceland & Signs of the Times: How Can Iceland Becoming the Most Modern Democracy with Racism?

The following are two articles on Iceland, and points to “The Times We are Living In” as one is on Iceland, a country becoming the most Modern Democracy on the planet and the other hand, “Racism” is rising in Iceland.

Democracy and the web: is Iceland the world’s most modern country (source)?

Iceland is one of the world’s oldest democracies. In 2008 the country was hit hard by the economic turmoil and is still recovering. As a part of that work Iceland is forming a new constitution and it is not being done by office-holders or politicians. The people of Iceland will write their new constitution together in an open and collaborative way using the web and social media.

The government has also promised to accept the people’s suggestion without any changes. I believe Iceland is touching upon a really important change that has gradually entered people’s lives in the last 10 years. The new possibilities to interact, share and collaborate via the internet. This is shifting the power balance between authorities and the people in favor of the citizen, the customer, the patient or the student. This gives us new possibilities to use these new means to strengthen and support democratic processes. More people can get their voice heard, we can get a local angle, we can get quicker input and interact etc. This is a good movement, but does it also mean that we will see more extreme point of views and “niche thoughts” in the public debate?

Racist Discourse on Rise in Iceland (source)

Racist public discourse has increased in Iceland in recent years, mostly against Muslims, according to a report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the human rights body of the Council of Europe, published today.

Although much progress has been made in Iceland, not least in terms of the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the report suggests that many areas need improvement. The authors of the report are concerned about “increasing racist public discourse with few investigations and so far no prosecutions or convictions under hate speech legislation. Immigrants encounter problems in social integration, in learning Icelandic, access to information and lack of fair employment conditions.”

The report welcomes the appointment of a police officer to investigate hate crime and the creation of a data base to monitor online hate speech, but criticizes the lack of comprehensive anti-discrimination law to combat racism and racial discrimination. Immigrants encounter problems in instruction in Icelandic, access to information, fair employment conditions and early school drop-out.

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