The Faroese annual tradition of killing long-finned pilot whales – called the grindadráp – has led to activists sending tens of thousands of emails to Danish politicians in the aftermath of this year's event, making one MP condemn the activists as 'hypocrites'.
Held every summer, the event often provokes a large amount of criticism of Denmark and the Faroe Islanders internationally and from animal rights activists, thousands of whom have chosen to express their outrage to Danish politicians this year through what appears to be a concerted email campaign.
The sheer volume of electronic mail has forced the people behind the parliament's email service to set up a special filter, but many politicians have also set up exasperated auto-reply messages informing activists that that they will not receive a reply.
Conservative MP Rasmus Jarlov told DR that he had received from 2,500 to 3,000 emails from activists in the past few days, which led him to recently set up the following automated reply:
“If you have written to the entire Danish Parliament to aggressively let us know that you hate Denmark because the Faroese people kill animals to have something to eat, please know that you email will not be read. You do not get a dialogue by spamming politicians.
“It is perfectly legitimate to kill animals to get food. The pilot whales are not endangered and the hunting is sustainable. They are killed as fast as possible and overall their welfare is a thousand times better than that of the cows, pigs and poultry that live miserable lives in your own country so that your own countrymen can get something to eat. So please stop being hypocrites and start targeting the important animal welfare issues in this world rather than going for the ones with the most dramatic video clips.”
According to Jarlov and other politicians, many of whom have publicly vented their frustration on Twitter and Facebook, the emails are primarily composed of short, aggressive messages.
“Among other things, they've written are that Danes are ‘Hell's children', ‘shame on you', ‘fuck you', and that that they hope we suffer. They are very aggressive, and their emails do not make us any more informed on the issue as they do not present any arguments to convince us that their point of view is the correct one,” Jarlov told DR.
Danish People's Party MP Martin Henriksen told DR that he has also begun to receive death threats in his inbox and on his phone, which he said started soon after captain Paul Watson from the organization Sea Shepherd posted the politician's contact details on Facebook.
Sea Shepherd regularly organizes protest actions against the Faroese event, which the group decries as a "barbaric practice". Two Sea Shepherd activists were arrested in the Faroe Islands this year, facing charges of interfering with the autonomous Danish province's annual whale hunt. During last summer's protest action, 14 Sea Shepherd activists were arrested while attempting to save a pod of 33 pilot whales.
The islands, situated between Norway, Iceland and Scotland, are home to just under 50,000 people and although the country is a member of the Kingdom of Denmark along with Greenland, the Faroe Islands have been self-governing since 1948.
Whaling in the archipelago stretches back to the earliest Norse settlements more than 1,000 years ago, and community-organized hunts date to at least the 16th century.