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Envious of Obama, Icelanders hurl yogurt and stage riots for new leaders

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REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Protesters hurled dairy products and rage at their elected leaders here during increasingly violent demonstrations this week over the handling of the country’s collapsing economy.

Parliament was suspended Wednesday and the prime minister’s limousine was attacked with snowballs and eggs.

Demonstrators are calling for immediate elections, but the prime minister appeared on television Wednesday night, saying his government has no intention of stepping down.

Both sides, it seems, are digging in for a fight.

As the Monitor is reporting today, protesters have been gathering regularly – and, until recently, peacefully – following the country’s economic implosion in October. Demonstrators say the government could have prevented the crisis by heeding warnings and preventing banks from amassing so much foreign debt.

The protests subsided when Parliament took a Christmas recess, but the job losses and economic hits kept coming. When Parliament convened Tuesday for its first session of the year, demonstrators were waiting. Jón Gíslason, a university student, said the inauguration of President Barack Obama caused feelings of rage to boil over here.

Obama, Mr. Gíslason said, "is actually respected."

The event in Washington, D.C., "stood in stark contrast with the situation here," Gíslason said Wednesday night, as he stood near a burning trash can. "Our leaders have lost all credibility and seem to bear no responsibility."

Protesters eventually breached the garden of the House of Parliament Tuesday afternoon and began throwing snowballs, eggs, and skyr (an Icelandic dairy product) at police officers. The police responded to the dairy product fusillade with pepper spray and clubs.

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