Icelandic-Basque relations on the upswing

A memorial dedicated to the 32 Basque whalers who were killed in the West Fjords in 1615 in what’s known as Iceland’s only mass murder was unveiled in Hólmavík, the West Fjords, on April 22, the last day of winter. At the occasion, West Fjords district commissioner Jónas Guðmundsson revoked the order that Basques could be killed on sight in the region.

“Of course it’s more for fun; there are laws in this country which prohibit the killing of Basques,” Jónas told When asked whether he’s noticed an increase of Basque tourists since the order was revoked, he responded, “at least it’s safe for them to come here now.”

President of Gipuzkoa Martin Garitano spoke at the ceremony, as did Icelandic Minister of Education and Culture Illugi Gunnarsson, reports. The speeches were followed by musical performances and a moment of prayer.

The program included Xabier Irujo, descendant of one of the murdered Basque whale hunters, and Magnús Rafnsson, descendant of one of the murderers, taking part in a symbolic reconciliation, as it says on

There is more here, via Peter Kobulnicky.


One hypothesis on the end of the Norse settlement on Greenland was that they were finally wiped out by Basque pirates.

So a man who would have never heard of this massacre if activists and the media (but I repeat myself) hadn't told him apologizes to a man who would have never heard about this massacre if activists and the media hadn't told him?

Yeah. Have we reached peak self-loathing yet?

Nope. Kerry hasn't taken credit yet.

From Wikipedia:

"The Turkish Abductions (Icelandic: Tyrkjaránið) were a series of slave raids by Barbary pirates that took place in Iceland between June 20 – July 19, 1627. Pirates from Morocco and Algeria, under the command of Dutch pirate Murat Reis, raided the village of Grindavík on the southwestern coast, Berufjörður and Breiðdalur in the Eastern Region (the East Fjords), and Vestmannaeyjar (islands off the south coast); they captured an estimated 400-800 prisoners to sell into slavery."

Did Greenpeace protest?

I followed the links and clearly there is much fodder for comment:
1. v*mitgate
2. Prime minister eats cake ( or perhaps just half)
3. Pirates poised to seize state power

The main link lead to this:

So Icelanders aren't free to name themselves and their children as they see fit?

"So Icelanders aren’t free to name themselves and their children as they see fit?"

There's no Bill of Rights in Iceland.

Neither are the Danes or the Swedes.

Nor the French. Nor the Germans, japanese, New Zealanders, Hungarians, Italians, Portuguese.

Nor Americans, depending on where they live - 'Comparably, America has fewer naming laws than most countries. Traditionally, the right to name your child or yourself as you choose has been upheld by court rulings and is rooted in the Due Process Clause of the fourteenth Amendment and the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, but a few restrictions do exist. Restrictions vary by state, but most are for the sake of practicality. For example, several states limit the number of characters you may use due to the limitations of the software used for official record keeping. For similar reasons, some states ban the use of numerals or pictograms. A few states ban the use of obscenity. There are also a few states, Kentucky for instance, that have no naming laws whatsoever.

One naming law that some find restrictive is California’s ban on diacritical marks, such as in the name José. The Office of Vital Records in California requires that names contain only the 26 alphabetical characters of the English language. There is no law restricting the use of diacritical marks informally and many parents get around the restrictions by doing so.'

(As a technical note - German naming law does not apply to non-Germans.)

"Nor Americans, depending on where they live" ...followed by a long complicated spiel that in no case comes remotely close to having an official governmental naming committee that approves names.

prior_approval is consistently tedious and disingenuous.

Yes, I agree with you about p_a, but there is that second set of books thing. Because in effect some parts of the US are highly intolerant of some names. You don't want to call your child "Adolf Hitler Campbell" for instance. Or even "Joycelynn Aryan National Campbell". Because then the State will come and take them into care on some spurious child endangerment charge.

They can pick from an approved list, or they can submit a name to a council for approval (which takes into account things like gender and history).

When I think of useless government departments, my first thought is always that Icelandic Name Council

France used to suppress the use of Breton names. I suppose you could call itv a "melting pot" policy.

How was this the only mass murder in Icelandic history? Do they mean the only mass murder since the Norse settled the island in the 9th centuy? Or in modern Icelandic history? Iceland wasn't an independent country in 1615 anyway.

Yes. I too find it difficult to beleive that a nation of vikings has only had one mass murder. Though of course most of the mass murdering done by Icelanders would have been off shore; there must have been infighting too.

1615 . . I remember it as if it were yesterday.

and you will understand why Basques and Icelanders were not on the best of terms.

“Of course it’s more for fun; there are laws in this country which prohibit the killing of Basques.”

Quote of the week right there.

"Because then the State will come and take them into care on some spurious child endangerment charge"


I've visited Holmavik. It also has the distinction of being the location for the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft, and, yes, the necropants.

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