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Sweden is hosting an international forum against Jewish hatred and Holocaust remembrance in Malmö on Wednesday. This city has been trying, for several years, to counter a wave of new anti-Semitism.
The choice of Malmö to host an international forum against hatred of Jews and the memory of the Holocaust is not trivial, the city of Sweden is increasingly associated with the fight against anti-Semitism.
Responding to the invitation of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, European Council President Charles Michel, representatives of the United Nations, those from around 40 countries, as well as internet giants will take part on Wednesday 13 October.
“Any young Swede who wears a kippah or a Star of David with pride is taking a stand against hatred,” the Social Democratic leader said Tuesday evening at a ceremony to open the forum at the synagogue in Malmö. Sweden’s third largest city, it is home to a large immigrant population from the Middle East.
At the end of his career – he will be stepping down in November – Stefan Löfven made the fight against anti-Semitism one of his last great fights, promising to better protect Sweden’s 15,000 to 20,000 Jews.
The authorities have promised to strengthen the resources of the police, to increase the envelope dedicated to the protection of the most threatened congregations and to prevention among young people.
In the Scandinavian country, complaints related to anti-Semitic crimes increased by more than 60% between 2016 and 2018, from 182 to 278 (6% of complaints for racist crimes), according to the latest statistics available from the Prevention Council of delinquency.
“People gave the Nazi salute when they saw my Star of David, or they laughed at me because I was Jewish,” Mira Kelber, youth leader for the Jewish community in Malmö, told AFP.
“Once a girl said to me ‘she’s Jewish, gas her,” said the 21-year-old daughter of a Holocaust survivor.
Malmö had particularly caused concern from the early 2000s, due to incivility, insults and attacks against the small Jewish community (around 500 to 600 people today, four times less than in 1970).
Problems that had earned the large Swedish port to be considered one of the hotbeds of a new anti-Semitism in Europe, while it was through Malmö that the Danish Jews had fled the Nazis and that is where they had flocked in white buses of Holocaust survivors upon liberation.
“Today, Malmö has a better reputation than five or ten years ago, because we are working a lot more to fight anti-Semitism,” the city’s Jewish community leader Ann Katina told AFP. , even if it is a “fight that is not over yet”.
“There is a general concern,” said Mirjam Katzin, coordinator of the fight against anti-Semitism in schools in Malmö, a unique position in the Scandinavian country. “Some will know no abuse, while others will hear Jews being used as insults, jokes about Hitler or the Holocaust, or various conspiracy theories.”
Part of the new concern is that anti-Semitism is proliferating online. “Anti-Semitism takes the form of extreme hatred on social media, it has not only moved there, it has spread there,” says Ann Katina.
“There was an Instagram account where young people in my town put a lot of anti-Semitic things, but also things directed against me on a site called Ask where you can make anonymous posts”, explains Johanna Gosenius. , 18 years old.
Last week, the European Union (EU) presented its first anti-Semitism strategy in the face of a “worrying rise”, including a major anti-hate online component.
According to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, nine in 10 Jews believe that anti-Semitism has increased in their country, and 38% have considered emigrating because they no longer feel safe in the EU.
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