Iranian fire asylum seeker “given second chance at life” in Iceland

The Iranian refugee who threatened to set himself on fire at the Icelandic Red Cross headquarters this May is among 24 people granted Icelandic citizenship this week at the end of the Alþingi parliament’s autumn term.

Mehdi Kavyanpour (sometimes seen spelt Kavyan Pour) was yesterday granted his Icelandic citizenship after a frustrating and eventful seven year wait. He told reporters he feels like he has been given a second chance in life.

Mehdi Kavyanpour came to the public’s attention in a big way in May, when he poured petrol on himself inside the Red Cross headquarters and threatened to ignite it. His friends described it as an act of a desperate man stuck in limbo for seven years without his family. He was arrested at the time and held for two weeks, followed close monitoring – but he was never charged. Now, seven years after arriving in Iceland seeking asylum, Mehdi has finally received permission to live in Iceland and has furthermore been made a citizen.

“I feel free for the first time and I am overjoyed by it,” he told RÚV. “I really appreciate what the Icelandic authorities have done and I want to use this opportunity the best I can.”

Mehdi has not met his family for seven years. But now, armed with a new passport, the first thing he plans to do is to organise a reunion with them in Turkey. He says he hopes one day that his family may be able to join him in Iceland. He says he feels like he has been given a second chance at life after an extremely challenging seven years. For the first time he is looking forward to a better life, he says.

Read more about Mehdi’s sad case here.

Also among the 24 people granted Icelandic citizenship was two year-old Siim Vitsut, the Estonian-born child of murdered Icelandic businessman Hannes Þór Helgason.