In Malmo, record number of anti-Semitic attacks reported


The Swedish city of Malmo is reporting a record increase in documented anti-Semitic attacks.

Swedish police recorded 60 hate crimes against Jews in the city in 2012, up from an average of 22 in 2010 and 2011, the Sydsvenskan local daily reported. During the first six months of 2013, police reported 35 such attacks in Malmo, putting the city on a pace to break last year’s record.

The increase may reflect greater willingness by victims to report the crimes rather than a steep increase in crimes, said Fred Kahn, chairman of the board of the Malmo Jewish community. Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city, has several hundred Jewish residents.

“There was some increase in hate crimes, and to combat it the Jewish community is reporting more,” Kahn told JTA. “I think we are reporting a lot more and we are also feeling more confident.”

About 30 percent of Malmo’s 300,000 residents belong to families of immigrants from Muslim countries, according to city statistics. Radical members of that population are responsible for most of the attacks against Jews, the Jewish community has said.

Malmo’s former mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, who left his post in February after 28 years in office, had blamed the rise in anti-Semitism on Jews and advised them to distance themselves from Israel to remain safe.

Last year, Hannah Rosenthal, at the time the Obama administration’s special envoy for combating anti-Semitism, said Reepalu’s words were a prime example of “new anti-Semitism” wherein anti-Israel sentiment serves as a guise for hatred of Jews.

Since Reepalu left, Kahn said, “authorities are more alert to the needs of the Jewish community.”

In neighboring Finland, the Simon Wiesenthal Center asked President Sauli Vainamo Niinisto to intervene to stop the publication of anti-Semitic texts and cartoons in Magneettimedia, a freely-distributed paper published by Juha Karkkainen, owner of a large chain of department stores.

No hate crime conviction in Malmö in two years, despite record number of incidents


Despite a record number of complaints about hate crimes in the Swedish city of Malmö, not a single person was convicted of such offenses in over two years, according to a recent report.

The local daily Sydsvenskan on Jan. 7 reported that in 2010 and 2011, the Swedish court system did not convict anyone of hate crimes despite a record-number of 480 complaints about such incidents reported in those years.

In total, only 16 cases formed the basis for an indictment, none of them over anti-Semitic behavior.

Approximately 700 Jews live in Malmö, amid tens of thousands of immigrants from Muslim countries. The Jewish community’s leaders say a few dozen anti-Semitic attacks occur here annually.

[Related: Why the fate of Malmö’s Jews matters]

Unidentified individuals detonated an explosive charge in front of the Malmö Jewish Community Center in October and broke the building’s door. Police have no suspects in connection with the attack.

According to members of the community, most anti-Semitic attacks are perpetrated by Muslims, though Malmö Mayor Ilmar Reepalu has denied this.

He advised Jews who want to be safe in Malmo to reject Zionism, which he listed along with anti-Semitism as an unacceptable phenomenon. Reepalu has also said the Jewish community had been “infiltrated” by anti-Muslim agents.

Hannah Rosenthal, the United States former special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, last year accused Reepalu of not doing enough to fight anti-Semitism.

According to Sydsvenskan, a total of 4,590 hate crimes were reported to the police in the whole of Sweden in 2012.

Hate crimes are not a punishable category in the Swedish penal code but are considered an aggravating circumstance that can lead to tougher sentencing.