When it became known that the father of Iceland's Prime Minister wrote a letter of recommendation on behalf of his pedophile friend to have his 'honor restored', this island country was rocked to its core, resulting in a government implosion.
Something unprecedented just happened in Iceland. Last week a pedophile scandal rocked the small island occupied by just over 332,500 inhabitants. To put it in perspective, the city where Dee and I live (Raleigh, North Carolina) had just over 451,000 residents in 2015.
Here is the shocking background information from a recent Washington Post article (see screen shot below).
Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson (pictured below) was appointed by the President of Iceland according to Section II, Article 17 of the country's constitution. The Prime Minister chairs the Cabinet of Iceland.
For the last 77 years or so, Iceland has had what is called a 'Restored Honor Law". To understand how this became the law of the land, this is what a reporter from the Schintzel Republic discovered:
What Icelandic people say is that around the late 1930s…..folks were talking about the problem of folks who'd been convicted of crimes and were no longer allowed to vote. The general public felt that once a guy had served his time in prison….he ought to get his ability to vote back.
The population in Iceland in this period? Around 120,000 residents. It's not a lot. No one ever says how many were affected by the jail-and-vote situation. One might take a guess that we are talking about dozens…..not hundreds.
So in 1940, this law was crafted with the intended purpose of just giving you your vote back.
Part of this crafting led to the reputation being restored, and you'd have the chance to hold a public position (like mayor).
Clearing your record? No….it won't do anything with the crime you committed.
To get 'restored honor'? You fill out a form and identify our past crime. No one says much over how much information is required. I doubt if it's more than four pages max. Then there's the matter of the three letters of recommendation. Character references….would be an appropriate translation. You find three folks who have some upstanding situation in the community and they will vouch for your character. Then the whole thing is packaged up and sent to the Justice Ministry. They review and make a decision. Once passed by them….it goes to the Icelandic President, and he signs. It's finished then….you have 'restored honor'.
Getting back to the matter at hand, the Prime Minister's father signed a letter of recommendation for his friend Hjalti Sigurjon Hauksson to have his 'honor restored'. As the information above indicates, Hauksson and another convicted pedophile received full pardons because of this 'restored honor law'.
According to an article in the Chicago Tribune,
Those decisions "rattled Icelandic society," according to Iceland Magazine. As a reporter explains: "public and media have spent much of summer discussing the two cases and the horrifying world of violence and abuse they revealed."
Soon after, one of Downey's victims launched a campaign urging the government to release the letters of support for Downey and Hauksson. But the Justice Ministry refused to respond to questions on the subject.
This week, a parliamentary committee ruled that the administration was violating freedom of information laws by keeping the names a secret. So the letters were released to the news media. Even more damning: On Thursday, Iceland's justice minister, Sigridur Andersen, told television news reporters he had informed the prime minister of his father's involvement back in June. She said she told no one else.
That disclosure, which smacked of a coverup, sent shock waves through Iceland's political class and threatened the fragile three-party coalition that put Benediktsson in power last year.
The Chicago Tribune article provided the following details regarding Benediktsson's rise to power"
To secure a majority, his Independence Party joined forces with the centrists and the Bright Future coalition, squeaking in with a razor-thin majority of 32 out of 63 seats. On Friday, Bright Future voted unanimously to leave the government. The letter "was the straw that broke the camel's back," a Bright Future insider told Reuters. "This is not in our spirit, and everybody agreed this was the end of it. It came as a complete surprise. It was something we couldn't have continued with, this is something completely opposed to our principles. The corruption and dishonesty are just incredible."
Apparently, this isn't the Prime Minister's first controversy. It has been reported that P.M. Benediktsson and his father have connections to offshore tax havens and a controversial sale of state assets.
Since the scandal broke, Benediktsson's father has issued a formal apology for signing a letter supporting his old friend. According to the BBC (as stated in the Tribute piece), the Prime Minister's father had this to say:
"I have never considered the restored honor as anything except a legal procedure making it possible for convicted criminals to regain some civil rights. I did not think of it as something that would justify Hjalti's position toward his victim. I told Hjalti to face his action and to repent."
Hauksson's victim (his stepdaughter) described the ordeal as surreal. During interviews with various Icelandic media outlets, she has revealed that her stepfather (Hauksson) continues to harass her and has even approached her 6-year-old daughter while she was on a school field trip. Believe it or not, Hauksson (the convicted pedophile) was working as a bus driver at the time!
So why are the Deebs reporting on this unbelievable situation?
We find it absolutely incredible that Iceland, which prides itself in being a SECULARIST country, appears to care more about the problem of pedophilia than some evangelical leaders in the United States. Take Steven Furtick, for example. Two years ago Dee wrote a post about Furtick's friend Norm Vigue, who served four years in Federal prison and is on the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry for having child pornography on his computer. You can read the details in this court document. Steven Furtick held Vigue up as one of his heroes. Apparently, Vigue is a changed man and a professing Christian. While we hope this is the case, he is still listed on our state's Sex Offender Registry.
If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know that there are quite a few other Christian leaders who appear to turn a blind eye to pedophilia. So often they minister to sex offenders and re-victimize those who have been violated. A lack of empathy and the withholding of counseling are just two of the ways these victims are hurt by 'so-called' Christian pastors / leaders.
Good for Iceland for having the guts to shut down its government when it was discovered the Prime Minister's father vouched for his pedophile friend, who had almost daily committed heinous sex acts against his young stepdaughter for 12 years! Our evangelical leaders have much to learn from this tiny country where Christians are few and far between.