Sweden’s third-largest city, Malmo, has seen a near tripling of reports of anti-Semitic attacks, according to official figures.
According to the Sydsvenskan local daily, Swedish police recorded 60 hate crimes against Jews in 2012, up from an average of 22 in 2010 and 2011, and 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.
But the increase may reflect greater willingness to report on the part of victims, according to Fred Kahn, chairman of the board of the Malmo Jewish community, which numbers a few hundred people.
“There was some increase in hate crimes, and to combat it the Jewish community is reporting more,” he told JTA Thursday. “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 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, has blamed the rise in anti-Semitism on Jews and has advised them to distance themselves from Israel to remain safe, among other comments that he made in recent years that were widely interpreted as being anti-Semitic.
Since he left, “authorities are more alert to the needs of the Jewish community,” Kahn said.
Last year, Hannah Rosenthal, the Obama administration’s former special envoy for combating anti-Semitism, said Reepalu’s words were a prime example of “new anti-Semitism,” where anti-Israel sentiment serves as a thin guise for hatred of Jews.
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.