Malmo synagogue
Malmo synagogueiStock

An imam from the Swedish city of Malmo for the first time confirmed his attendance at the city’s Kristallnacht Holocaust commemoration event.

The planned attendance Saturday night of Salahuddin Barakat, founder of Malmo’s Academy of Islam, at Malmo’s synagogue is an important milestone in interfaith work designed to curb anti-Semitism in the city, according to the local rabbi, Moshe David HaCohen.

Last year, HaCohen and Barakat, who is Sunni, attended a Kristallnacht event in the nearby city of Lund. But this year, the 81st anniversary of the series of pogroms that erupted in Germany and Austria in 1938 and marked the first used of wide-scale violence by the Nazis against Jews, will be the first Muslim-Jewish commemoration in Malmo itself.

Malmo, where about a third of the population is Muslim, has seen frequent anti-Semitic harassment and violence, mostly by people from Muslim countries, against the city’s 800-odd Jews.

“We are in situation where the Jewish community is dwindling, it’s not simple,” HaCohen said. But the imam’s attendance, which HaCohen says is exposing Barakat to “criticism” from some of his own congregants, “is an important sign we’re on the path to better coexistence,” he said.

The imam and rabbi have held multiple events since 2016, which HaCohen says has helped improve the atmosphere for Jews.

Last month, Swedish authorities revealed that in 2018, anti-Semitic incidents there reached a new record tally of 280 following an increase of 53 percent over 2016. The report did not offer any details about perpetrators’ identities.