Muslim leaders visit Swedish synagogue in show of support following anti-Semitic events

‘We want to show sympathy and solidarity with Jews in Malmö and condemn all forms of racism and anti-Semitism in society,’ a local Muslim scholar said

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Monday 11 December 2017 12:36 GMT
Police outside the synagogue following the failed attack in Gothenburg
Police outside the synagogue following the failed attack in Gothenburg (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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Muslim and Christian leaders have rallied around the Jewish community in Swedish cities following anti-Semitic events this weekend, condemning the action and visiting a synagogue in Malmo in a show of support.

Around 200 people attended a rally in Malmo on Friday night, where people shouted anti-Semitic slogans and waved Palestinian flags in protest against Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In Gothenburg, a group of young people gathered outside a synagogue and attacked it by setting objects on fire and throwing them at the building on Saturday night.

Muslim representatives visited Malmo’s synagogue on Sunday. Alaeddin al-Qut, head of the Ibn Rushd society, an Islamic study group, told Swedish news outlet SVT Nyheter Skane:

“We want to show sympathy and solidarity with Jews in Malmo and condemn all forms of racism and anti-Semitism in society,” he said.

Freddy Gellberg, a spokesperson for Malmo’s Jewish community, told The Local: “This is a very good initiative. We may have different views, but it is important we can have a normal conversation and speak to each other."

Archbishop Antje Jackelen wrote a column in newspaper Dagen addressing the Jewish communities in Gothenburg and Malmo, saying: “I would like to assure you of the solidarity of the Swedish church in the fight against anti-Semitism and violence in the name of religion.”

Three people have been arrested in connection with the synagogue attack on suspicion of attempted arson.

Witness Allan Stutzinsky told the Associated Press he saw a dozen masked youths throwing what appeared to be firebombs into the garden surrounding the synagogue.

A community centre connected to the synagogue was hosting a youth event at the time of the attack, with between 20 and 30 people reportedly in attendance. No injuries were reported and no damage was done to the synagogue.

Sweden's prime minister, Stefan Lofven, condemned the events of the weekend, while 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.

Mr Lofven said: "I'm terribly upset over the attack on a synagogue in Gothenburg yesterday and calls for violence against Jews at a demonstration in Malmo.

"There is no place for anti-Semitism in our Swedish society. The perpetrators will be held accountable."

He urged "all democratic forces" in Sweden to work together to create "a tolerant and open society where everyone feels safe".

Additional reporting by AP

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