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And today… bad news

Icelandic society is going to pot… and I’m not talking merely rising inflation and escalating gas prices. Sadly I’m talking random acts of violence and destruction.

Not so long ago, Reykjavík was safe and benign. Granted, things could get a little out of hand in the city centre on a weekend night, but only in exceptional cases was it anything serious. Personally I never thought twice about walking the streets [no inappropriate jokes, thank you!] at any hour of the day or night. People didn’t even lock their doors when they went out, in the not-so distant past.

Alas, in just a few years it’s become a different picture entirely. Consider:

1. While EPI and I were away in Copenhagen the other weekend, someone torched a car right in front of our house. In front of our building there’s a little driveway that opens onto a parking lot. EPI normally parks his car at the side of that little driveway if it’s not full. The people in the next house had their VW Polo parked there and someone came along, smashed one of the windows, and [probably] threw a Molotov cocktail inside. The car caught on fire immediately and was completely destroyed – apparently it exploded and was hurled forward with the impact. Had EPI’s car been there it would either have been torched [mammamia!], or it would have been parked directly in front and would thus have been damaged with the impact of the other car lurching forward. Incidentally, our neighbours are a very calm, quiet middle-aged couple who were completely at a loss as to why anyone would do such a thing. In their own words: ‘We have no enemies.’

2. About three weeks ago, a 19-year old girl was driving in Mosfellsbær, on the outskirts of Reykjavík, when someone on the side of the road flagged her down. She stopped to see what was wrong and as she rolled down her window the man who had stopped her punched her in the face so that she passed out. She woke up in the back seat of her own car with one of the assailants trying to rape her. She kicked and screamed and fought back, at which point the car went off the road and got stuck. The attackers then fled on foot.

3. Last Wednesday evening, a 15-year old girl was walking home from sports practice at 8.20pm, in the Laugardalur area. [NB it’s bright daylight out at 8.20pm these days.] She was approached by a man with one hand behind his back, who suddenly turned and hit her with a baseball bat. He hit her repeatedly until he got hold of her sports bag, with which he then ran off. The girl escaped serious injury but needed trauma counselling.

There have been other serious cases of violence, but I’ll spare you the gory details. The point is that this is a small community with merely 200,000 people in the Greater Reykjavík Area. It’s impossible to feel safe on the streets anymore, which is really sad because Iceland used to be a haven. After that incident last week, for example, there’s no way that I’ll let AAH walk home by herself late at night. People are starting to live in fear and this is a bad bad development. Which is why I say props to Morgunblaðið, which has written pretty harsh editorial pieces at least 2-3 times now, demanding that those parties in the running for the municipal elections in a few weeks time take a clear stand and tell the population of Reykjavík what they plan to do to address this very serious problem. Sticking their heads in the sand is no longer an option. Action must be taken.

In fact it’s a gorgeous day today. The sun shone brightly this morning when YT went out for a run; this afternoon we have big fluffy clouds that hide the sun at intervals, but it’s calm and fresh and beautiful. Temps are currently 5°C, the sun came up bright an early at 05.25 and will set at 21.29 unless someone torches it first.