The Icelandic parliament, Althingi, convened for the first time today since Christmas – and over 2,000 angry protesters surrounded the building using drums, horns, pans and simple clapping to ask for new elections.
The atmosphere was tense, inside the chamber and outside, as the Left Green Party reiterated its support for the protesters. Several Green MPs used the recess periods to go outside and join the protest.
Most MPs gathered in the building around 12, and were safely inside by the time protesters started arriving half an hour later. There was no church service before parliament.
Over 100 police officers were present in parliament’s back garden and over 30 people were arrested – among them many teenagers, including an 11 year-old boy. Pepper spray was used repeatedly to disperse the crowd, but with less effect than in the past. Many protesters wore sunglasses, and a few even came wearing gas masks.
Journalist Helga Vala Helgadottir angrily summed up her feelings to a Morgunbladid peer: “They’ve arrested some 15 teenagers – these kids over there lying in the corner in handcuffs. And yet these people we elected two years ago, our trusted representatives, are inside right now debating whether or not we should allow the sale of alcohol in normal shops. This is the nation who is talking out here. You have to listen to us!”
The IceNews photographer and two Morgunbladid cameramen were among the many people to get pepper spray in their eyes.