News You Can Use: No Longer Open Season on Basques in Iceland

It’s okay now, all you euskaldunak, you can visit Reykjavik again:

In late April, one of the world’s strangest laws was quietly revoked. Authorities in Iceland’s Westfjords district, the scenic northwestern corner of the Scandinavian island nation, repealed a 400-year-old decree ordering the death on sight of any Basque person found in the region.



This old grudge stems from a grisly incident in 1615, when misunderstandings and suspicions between locals and a group of shipwrecked whalers from what’s now the northern coast of Spain led to the slaughter of 32 Basques. The decree was ordered by the district’s bloodthirsty magistrate. Of course, newer laws have since been put in place, and no person from the Basque country has been in actual danger for a very long time.

Good to know!

“The decision to do away with the decree was more symbolic than anything else,” Westfjords district commissioner Jonas Gudmundsson told reporters last month. “We have laws, of course, and killing anyone — including Basques — is forbidden these days.”


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