Sweden Takes Steps to Protect Local Jews from Hate
The Swedish government has earmarked more than $600,000 in its next year's budget to increase security around its Jewish community.
According to a report published in The Local, 4 million kroner ($622,000) has been allocated as a one-time expenditure in the 2012 fiscal year budget to be released on September 20.
The funds are designated as new spending specifically to “increase security and reduce vulnerability for the Jewish minority,” according to a statement by Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag. “Anti-Semitic remarks and other negative treatment based on racist assumptions is never acceptable in a democratic society,” he said.
Speaking with the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, Ullenhag added that Jewish groups in Sweden had repeatedly expressed security concerns. These had resulted in people sometimes deciding not to attend religious services out of fear for their safety, he said. “Clearly, that is totally unacceptable... Jews are one of our national minorities and the state has a responsibility to ensure that people can go to a synagogue and participate in Jewish activities and feel they have the security they believe they need. That's a fundamental right.”
Statistics quoted by The Local from Sweden's National Council on Crime Prevention showed there were 161 reported hate crimes with anti-Semitic motives in 2010.
In March 2011, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the Swedish government to cover the cost of protecting its Jews. Senior officials of the Center found during a fact-finding mission to Stockholm and Malmo that Swedish intelligence had identified more than 400 Islamist radicals and neo-Nazis in the country.
“Coupled with global threats from 'lone wolf' operatives, Jews are a primary target for hate crimes and terrorists,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center's associate dean, in a statement issued from Stockholm at the time.
Among the requests made to the Swedish government were calls for a municipally-funded telephone hotline for victims of hate crimes, establishment of a hate crime investigation and monitoring unit and funds to help at-risk religious institutions pay for security measures.
The 300,000-strong city of Malmo, which includes a large immigrant Muslim population, is home to some 800 Jews. The general Jewish population of the country is estimated at a total of approximately 20,000.