Anti-Semitic hate crime reports triple in Sweden’s Malmo

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Anti-Semitic hate crime reports in Sweden’s third-largest city of Malmo have almost tripled in recent years with no convictions, official figures indicate.

The city of about 300,000, whose longtime mayor resigned in February after making comments many interpreted as anti-Semitic, recorded 60 hate crimes against Jews in 2012, up from an average of 22 in 2010 and 2011, the Malmo daily Sydsvenskan reported.

Police reported 35 such hate crimes so far in 2013, putting the city on a pace to break last year’s record. Still, no one has yet been convicted in any of the cases, bringing denunciations from Malmo’s Jewish community.

Jews in the Swedish port city have been subjected to taunts, insults and anti-Semitic graffiti, Sydsvenskan reported.

A Malmo woman identified as Sara said a Star of David has been painted onto her door 10 times since November.

“At first I thought it must have been something wrong, that it was meant for someone else, but then I realized it was for me,” she said. “It’s unpleasant to live here, I have several times wondered if I should move. But I would not really know where to go.”

An unnamed female member of the Jewish Community Security Group, which helps the members make reports to the police, told the newspaper the reach of anti-Semitic hatred is deep in the city.

“There may be students who become victims in schools, others may get hate mail, or are persecuted in town. Or sometimes people are spat on,” the 38-year-old woman said. “Once at the mill, there was a bunch of spitting, throwing cigarette butts on me. Another time I was sitting on a bus when a group of teenage youths shouted ‘Jew [expletive]’ at me.”

Another woman with the pseudonym Carina told Swedish Radio she, too, has had a Star of David painted on her door.

“You get the vibe of Germany in the ’30s. I was aware that there is a bitter mood in Malmo, but did not know it was this bad,” she said, adding she has made at least seven complaints to the police.

Current Mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh issued a statement Tuesday after the Sydsvenskan article appeared, vowing she takes the situation seriously.

“Every hate crime committed is one too many,” the mayor said. “Each report must be taken seriously and the whole city has to engage in countering the attitudes and opinions that lead to people being forced endure the suffering that hate crimes bring.”

Jammeh’s predecessor, Ilmar Reepalu, resigned this year after a celebrated 19-year tenure following comments he made were interpreted as tacitly endorsing anti-Semitic attitudes, which he denied.

“When people say that we have a right to take your land because we have some form of 1,000-year promise from God that this is our land [Israel], then it creates conflicts,” Reepalu was quoted as saying. “Then they say that I am anti-Semitic when I put this across. I am flabbergasted that they are then able to tie all this together.”

The Malmo Police Department, meanwhile, has assembled a new anti-hate crime unit

Thomas Bull, the unit’s chief, said police are undergoing training to handle such reports.

“Previously hate crime investigations were somewhat undermined,” he told the Malmo newspaper. “There was a fear of making mistakes and I believe that many police officers saw hate crimes as too difficult.

“But it’s not like that now,” he added. “Now the cops even call us from the field and ask how they should proceed.”

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