Malmö's Muslims Reach Out to Jewish Community

Sheikh: 'the Jews should not feel that they need to move from the city - they are part of Malmö's history and culture.'

Tova Dvorin ,

Interfaith (illustrative)
Interfaith (illustrative)
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Malmö's Muslim community supports the city's Jews, local representatives told the Swedish Kvållsposten on Thursday - despite rampant anti-Semitism in the city often perpetrated by Muslims themselves.

On Thursday, Malmö's Jewish synagogue erected a wall around its main complex, after threats, insults, and vandalism were perpetrated against the building and the congregation. 

"This is absolutely about anti-Semitism," local Muslim representative Sheikh Salahuddin Barakat stated to Kvållsposten, "and there are probably young people of Muslim background who are behind it. But just because there is a conflict about Palestine does not make it right [for the perpetrators to] act as they did." 

Barakat added that he himself is "exposed" by his own religious garb to insults and threats. 

"I know how it feels and do not want anyone else to have to deal with this," he said. "The Jews should not feel that they need to move from the city. They are part of Malmö's history and culture."

Barakat made headlines for taking this expression of solidarity one step further last week; he and another member of his mosque presented Malmö Jewish leader Rabbi Shneur Kesselman with flowers, and a note reading, ""To Rabbi Shneur Kesselman, the Jewish congregation in Malmö and all the Jews of Malmö - Malmö would not be complete without you!" 

The flowers were accepted enthusiastically, Jewish community leaders said. 

"It's great that they want to help and show their support," Jewish community leader Jehoshua Kaufman stated to the daily. "It is positive, a commitment that means a lot to us." 

Several journalists have documented the virulent anti-Semitism openly expressed by Malmö residents. Barakat's gesture of support was made just days before Petter Ljunggren, a Swedish journalist looking to test attitudes toward Jews, was cursed and assaulted when walking through the city wearing a yarmulke and a necklace with the Star of David. 




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