Antisemitic attacks and protests have been taking place across Sweden since Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but Jews in the Scandinavian country say they have been under attack for years.
Last week saw an arson attack on a synagogue in Gothenburg and an attempted arson attack at a Jewish cemetery in Malmö, Sweden’s second and third-largest cities respectively.
Demonstrations involving hundreds of people in Malmö and the capital Stockholm saw protesters shouting antisemitic slurs and threatening terror attacks on Israel.
A demonstration in the capital Stockholm this week saw hundreds carrying Palestine and Turkish flags chanting ‘we march on Jerusalem, millions of martyrs’ and ‘Oh Jews, the Army of Muhammad will return.’
The crowd gathered for a speech in Arabic, during which the speaker branded the Jewish people ‘the descendants of cows and pigs’, after which participants burned the Israeli flag with the Star of David.
In recent weeks, Jews in Sweden have spoken to local media of being subjected to hate speech, attacks and insults against them – and say that it did not start on December 6.
The Jewish congregation in Malmö only has 450 members, but as of last year, they have a person employed full-time to deal with security issues.
Svante Lundgren, senior fellow in Jewish Studies at Lund University links antisemitism in Malmö to the rising numbers of immigrants from the Middle-East.
‘There is strong antisemitism in many countries in the Middle-East and as a result, there are people who are brought up with it, not just hatred of Israel but of all Jews,’ he told Kvallsposten.
‘There is a lot of research in this field and what you see is that some people from the Middle-East bring strong antisemitic views from their home country.
He adds that this is not true of all people with this background, and says that there are serious issues with anti-Muslim views in Malmö as well.
‘There’s a big proportion of people who are foreign and in many areas there are social issues. When there are people who do not get integrated into society it can be easier for them to turn it into hatred against a single group.’
‘This has been going on for many years, often it’s verbal abuse: people shouting abusive words and swearing both in Arabic and Swedish,’ the rabbi in Malmö, Shneur Kesselman, told Kvallsposten.
‘They honk their horns and give the finger and I have been a victim physically with people throwing things from passing cars in the street.’
Speaking anonymously for fear of reprisals, a female teacher reveals that antisemitic attacks and hatred against Jews have forced her to keep her religion a secret.
‘I have heard pupils shouting about killing Jews in the corridors. The antisemitism is there constantly,’ she told Dagens Nyheter.
‘There is such a hateful mood among the students. Hate against Israel and hate against Jews. I am scared, as simple as that.’
Others living in the major cities in Sweden speak of being too scared to wear the Star of David around their neck or being subjected to verbal abuse because of their Jewish faith in schools, the workplace or in public.
The recent incidents have been condemned by Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven and other top politicians, and authorities increased security around the synagogue and at Jewish centres in Stockholm and Malmo.
The European Jewish Congress said it was ‘unconscionable that Jews are under attack on the streets of Europe’ and urged Swedish and other European governments to take ‘strong punitive action’ against perpetrators.