Thursday, February 25, 2010

Malmö’s anti-Semitism remains hot topic in Swedish media

Malmö's anti-Semitic problems have today been discussed in the national quality daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) and the major local newspaper Sydsvenskan.

In an op-ed in SvD, Per Gudmundson, who also runs an interesting blog, states that mayor Ilmar Reepaly (Social Democrat), "is just watching as Jews flee Malmö". Recently Reepalu has told the Sunday Times that "There haven't been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city wants to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmö". Gudmundsson’s op-ed today resumes some of the incidents of the last decade:

“An 85 year-old Jewish owner of a shop was almost beaten to death by a gang of youngsters alongside some other less life threatening incidents which have been reported.”He mentions also that there was a time when students in the Pauli school next to the synagogue insulted Jews on their way to synagogue. There are also teachers who are afraid to discuss their (Jewish) background in schools where students talk about “disgusting Jews” and how "Hitler did a great job".

In view of the threatening situation for Jews in it would have been normal for mayor Reepalu to discuss the problems with the Jewish community leaders. His inaction is even more shocking as the leader of his own party Mona Sahlin has met the Jewish leaders in the town. Yet, as Gudmundson stresses: when Reepalu was asked whether or not he had contacted the Jewish community he answered “No, but I was neither contacted by the Jewish community when swastikas where painted on my house”.
As his answer demonstrates, Reepalu does not understand what the responsibilities of a mayor in a supposedly civilized society are, once hate crimes regularly take place. What does it really say about the Social Democrats that such a person can remain in his position?

The second op-ed in SvD is written by the parliamentarian Fredrick Federley (Center Party) who insists that Reepalu must resign. According to Federley not only in Malmö there has been an increase of anti-Semitic incidents. He says that in Stockholm the Jewish community spends half of its budget on extended security measures and in Göteborg Jewish children have been advised not to wear necklaces carrying the Star of David.

Federley refers to Malmö as an “almost lost case” for Jews. This is the more so, he says,as Reepalu refuses even to admit that attacks on Jews in Malmö have occurred.

Local newspaper Sydsvenskan’s political Chief Editor, Heidi Avellanalso acknowledges that Malmö no longer has the image of a multi-cultural city but is nowadays viewed as rather “unpleasant”.
This is mainly due to the many attacks that have occurred on Jews. Avellan agrees that “Reepalu should think seriously about what signals his statements send out in a city where anti-Semitism is growing”.

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