Chaos in Parliament yesterday

Police trying to hinder the man from jumping down.

Police trying to hinder the man from jumping down. Photo/Ásmundur Friðriksson

Birgir Ármannsson, the President of the Icelandic parliament, had to postpone a parliamentary meeting due to shouting on parliamentary platforms and a man apparently threatening to jump down, at the same time as Minister of Justice Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir introduced a new bill on asylum seekers.

Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir, Minister of Justice, looks up at the scene, …

Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir, Minister of Justice, looks up at the scene, shortly after Birgir Ármannsson, Speaker of Alþingi decided to postpone the meeting until calm was restored. Screenshot/Alþingi

A man hung from the outside on the parliamentary platform and seemed to threaten to jump down.

Ásmundur Friðriksson, MP for the Independence Party, shared a video of the incident on Facebook.

“The Icelandic asylum seekers made noise, shouting and calling from parliamentary platforms at the beginning of the debate on changes to the Foreign Nationals Act. As a result, parliamentary meetings have been postponed for a few minutes, as people have been scurrying over the delays,” Friðriksson wrote on his Facebook.

Hafsteinsdóttir had just started discussing her bill on foreigners when the meeting was interrupted. She then interrupted the meeting until calm was restored.

MP jumped to the rescue

Jón Gunn­ar­sson, an MP for the Independence Party and former Minister of Justice, did not hesitate to lend a helping hand, when a riot began on parliamentary platforms and grabbed a protester who seemed to harm himself.

Jón Gunnarsson, MP for the Independence Party and the former …

Jón Gunnarsson, MP for the Independence Party and the former Minister of Justice did not hesitate to jump in and help the police secure the man away from danger.

“It wasn’t anything. I jumped to help the police because one police officer was trying to deal with the man. I just consider it my civic duty to help the police if the situation is like that,” Gunnarsson say.

Gunnarsson was in the parliamentary chamber when the incident occurred and he says he ran away without thought.

“One could see immediately that the incident was serious. The policeman was holding the man who seemed about to throw himself into the parliamentary chamber at those below,” he says.

According to him, a member of parliament and another police officer came to the man at about the same time as he, and the matter was resolved in a matter of seconds.

“He just gave up as soon as he felt that we had him,” says Gunnarsson.

Everybody shocked

“This kind of an incident makes parliamentarians understandably shocked,” says Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who just left the parliamentary chamber yesterday when a break in parliamentary sessions was required after three activists began to stage a high-level demonstration on parliamentary platforms.

Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, says that this incident cannot be …

Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, says that this incident cannot be the cause of the Parliamentary platforms being closed. mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

One of them climbed over their handrailing and made himself likely to jump into the parliamentary chamber.

“It is important that these events do not lead to the closure of parliamentary seats. They must be open to the voters; it is important for our democratic tradition,” Jakobsdóttir says, adding that it is gratifying how quickly and safely the employees of the parliament and the police responded.

“There is a clear sense of desperation behind us and we must work together to address these issues.”

Other MPs who spoke with the paper agreed. Everyone had reacted and many people had not realized where they were headed.

Most people who realized what was going on mentioned that they feared the man and that he might harm himself. The security of the Althingi must be ensured so that it can exercise its powers in peace.

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