By Maggie Maslak
Multiple attacks against the Jewish community in Sweden have sparked outcry from leaders who have spoken out against the violence. The Bishop of Stockholm sent a personal letter to an affected community expressing his solidarity with them.
“It’s with deep sorrow that I have heard about the detestable attack on your parish. I just want to express my sympathy in this difficult situation. I pray that God will help and protect all of you,” read the note sent by Cardinal Anders Arborelius to a Jewish community which was attacked recently.
Over the weekend, bottle bombs had been thrown at a chapel on the grounds of a Jewish cemetery in Malmo, the country’s third largest city. This was the second time in recent years that the Jewish chapel had been attacked, following an arson attempt in 2009.
Additionally, a group of men attacked a synagogue in Gothenburg with firebombs last week. Three men were arrested on suspicion of attempted arson.
Hundreds of protestors gathered in Malmo last week, publicly shouting for violence against the Jewish community, saying, “we want our freedom back, and we will shoot the Jews,” according to the local public radio station. The next day, protestors also publicly burned an Israeli flag in Stockholm.
While there were no reported injuries or damages sustained by the recent anti-Semitic attacks, Malmo’s Jewish community sees the recent events as “extremely serious.”
“We strongly emphasize that we can never accept being subjected to threats and attacks,” the Jewish assembly said, according to the Times of Israel.
The attacks came ahead of the Jewish celebration of Hannukah, which began the evening of Dec. 12 and lasts through Dec. 20, and in the wake of U.S. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“There is no place for anti-Semitism in Swedish society,” said the country’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in a recent statement, according to the Times of Israel.
Sweden’s Interior Minister for Justice Morgan Johansson noted the increased security around Jewish buildings in the country and said that they have a strong relationship with the police, who have been patrolling for anti-Semitic activity.
“It is always possible to do more,” Johansson said, according to the Local.
“But we have a high level of alert and have allocated more money to the police and security services. We have given them better resources to gain more control over groups that can present a threat.”
Antje Jackelen, the Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala, said that “I would like to assure you of the solidarity of the Swedish church in the fight against anti-Semitism and violence in the name of religion,” the Local reported.