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Iceland Strikes Back at Turkish Complains of Racism at Airport

While the arrival of the Turkish national team prompted loud criticism from the social media, journalists, team players and even the country's foreign minister, Icelandic officials argue that these complaints don't reflect reality.

Yesterday, team Turkey lodged complaints over a lengthy delay at Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik. The team claimed that their bags were searched and that they had to wait three hours to merely leave the airport. Also, both the team and the Turkish public went livid over a random man who stuck a toilet brush in the Turkish captain's face, pretending it was a microphone.

​While the public ire culminated in a massive online mob seeking vengeance, the man in question was actually not an Icelander but a foreign visitor to the country, according to national broadcaster RÚV.

Furthermore, the team didn't wait three hours, Víðir Reynisson, the Icelandic Football Association (KSI) chief of security, told the newspaper Vísir. Rather, only two hours had passed from the moment their plane landed until they reached their hotel.

The Turkish team wasn't singled out for a baggage search and wasn't subject to any discrimination, Isavia, the company that operates Keflavik International Airport, told RÚV.

READ MORE: Turks Enraged by Iceland's 'Racist' Greeting of Their Football Squad

According to international regulations, any plane arriving in Iceland from a country outside the EEA must be searched. Further delays were caused by the inordinate amount of electronics and bottles of fluid found in said baggage, but these were delays everyone had to endure, regardless of where they came from.

The Icelandic Foreign Ministry addressed protests from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. It assured that the security check followed required procedures.

“The Turkish National Football Team was travelling from an airport outside the EU/Schengen area, which is not recognised as a One Stop Security airport. All passengers, irrespective of nationality, travelling from such airports to Keflavik Airport undergo a security check on arrival as a matter of standard procedure”, it wrote, pointing out that the security check and the border controls "took a total of 1 hour 21 minutes from the moment the Turkish plane landed in Keflavik", the ministry said.

“Unfortunately, an official request for a fast track security check from the Turkish Embassy in Oslo was not received in time to be processed, as it was sent on only hours prior to the team’s arrival in Keflavik.”

Nevertheless, the incident triggered a huge outrage on the social media, as thousands of Turks voiced their frustration in a campaign named #TurksAreComingForIceland, with many resorting to threats.

​Iceland will meet Turkey on the football pitch in a UEFA EURO qualifier tonight.

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