Swedish synagogues temporarily shut down

Sweden's Jewish community temporarily shuts down synagogues as a precautionary measure against possible terrorist attacks.

Ben Ariel ,

Stockholm, capital of Sweden.
Stockholm, capital of Sweden.
Flash 90

Sweden's Jewish community has temporarily shut down synagogues across the country as a precautionary measure against possible attacks by terrorist groups, The World Jewish Congress (WJC) reports on its website.

The chairwoman of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, Lena Posner-Körösi, stressed the security situation would be re-assessed on a daily basis.

On Wednesday, Swedish police said they were hunting for a man wanted for "planning a terrorist act". An arrest warrant had been issued for the suspect, the head of domestic intelligence and counter-terrorism, Anders Thornberg, told a press conference in Stockholm.

"The man is being actively searched for," Thornberg said, according to the WJC website, refusing to confirm media reports the suspect is an Iraqi who has fought in Syria.

The man is wanted over his activities in Sweden and there is so far no link to the bloody attacks in Paris on Friday which left 129 people dead.

Sweden, along with Denmark, on Wednesday raised its national terror threat status to "high", the second-highest level on a five-point scale, following an assessment by the National Center for Terrorist Threat Assessment (NCT).

NCT director Mats Sandberg told the news conference that the Islamic State terror group - which has claimed the Paris attacks - "considers Sweden a legitimate target".

Mona Sahlin, Sweden's national coordinator for protecting democracy against violent extremism, said, "We need to do more both on the repressive side, we have laws that are not enough and the government is well aware of that. And there are parts of Swedish society who don't consider that jihadism is a problem here. So we need to do more," she said.

Earlier on Thursday, Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven admitted his country has been “naive” about the possibility of an Islamic State (ISIS) terror attack, adding Sweden would be stepping up security measures.

In addition to an increase in security across Europe following last week’s Paris attacks, the continent in general has seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitism, and Sweden is no exception.

Earlier this year, Swedish public radio apologized after a presenter questioned the Israeli ambassador about the responsibility of Jews for anti-Semitism, in the wake of the shooting of a Jewish man in neighboring Denmark.

The incident occurred when a journalist for Sveriges Radio (SR) asked Israeli ambassador Isaac Bachman on air, "Are Jews themselves responsible for the progression of anti-Semitism?"

The ambassador said he rejected the question, explaining “there was no reason to ask this question."

The station removed the program from its online archive and later issued a full apology.

More recently, in October, a large anti-Israel demonstration in the country featured calls to "slaughter the Jews" and chants praising the stabbing of innocent Israelis.




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