In America, when we want to take out our frustrations on a building in an act of civil disobedience—or just because we feel like it—eggs are the weapon of choice. That or wet toilet paper. Tomatoes work pretty well, too.
In Iceland, however, they stick to indigenous products like skyr. That's why the Icelandic parliament building is now coated in a layer of the famous high-protein, cultured yogurt. Tubs of the stuff were used in an anti-government protest yesterday.
As many as 10,000 protestors were estimated to have shown up outside parliament in Reykjavik. That's a significant number because there are only 330,000 people who live in Iceland, total. The protesters were there to show their disdain for Iceland's prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, and pressured him to step down. This is all happening because last weekend, leaked documents revealed that the prime minister had concealed what looks like a significant conflict of interest, all while he was trying to sort out Iceland's economic crisis.
The problem is this: The recently leaked documents show that the prime minister's wife owns an offshore company with a multimillion-pound claim against Iceland's collapsed banks. Furthermore, the PM himself owned part of that British Virgin Islands company until he sold his half to her before taking government office.
In short, the leaked papers—known as the Panama Papers, because they were leaked from a Panamanian law firm—suggest that Gunnlaugsson is not exactly a disinterested party when it comes to Iceland's banks.
Iceland, of course, fell into a deep depression following the 2008 collapse of the financial markets internationally. Icelanders have taken to Skyr-hurling because Gunnlaugsson, as prime minister, has been in charge of negotiating with the three big banks in Iceland that collapsed following 2008, all while his wife's company—and formerly his company—was owed a lot of money (515 million kronur or over $4 million) by these banks. Just a few days ago, Gunnlaugsson denied having connections to a foreign company or inaccurately reporting his financial assets and walked out of an interview with local SVT investigative television show.
So what are Icelanders who are fed up with their government to do? First they waved bananas, signifying their belief that they live in a banana republic. Then they pulled out the big guns—skyr—and hurled it at the Parliament.
As one Icelandic citizen told The Guardian, "He's just lost all credibility." Arntho Haldersson, a financial services consultant, went on to say, "Our prime minister, hiding assets in offshore accounts… After all this country has been through, how can he possibly pretend to lead Iceland's resurrection from the financial crisis? He should go."
Luckily for Haldersson and the rest of Iceland, PM Gunnlaugsson just announced his resignation today—and in time for a light dinner comprised solely of skyr, to boot.
Massive civil disobedience never tasted so good.