Jewish center in Sweden closes after anti-Semitic threats

Members of Jewish community in Umea say neo-Nazi group Nordfront behind campaign of intimidation and vandalism

The town of Umea in northern Sweden. (CC BY-SA 2.0, Tage Olsin, Wikipedia)
The town of Umea in northern Sweden. (CC BY-SA 2.0, Tage Olsin, Wikipedia)

A Jewish center in northern Sweden decided to close after receiving anti-Semitic threats.

The members of the Judisk Föreningen, or Jewish Association, in Umea decided at a meeting on Sunday to close its building and end the association’s activities, The Local-Sweden reported.

The association has been received threatening emails, and its building was vandalized with stickers of swastikas and spraypainted threats such as “we know where you live,” the report said, citing the Swedish-language SVT News Västerbotten.

“Too many things have happened lately which mean that Jewish parents don’t feel safe having their kids at the schools. Our children shouldn’t live in a world where they have to be ashamed for what they are, but it’s not possible to operate if people are scared,” Umeå Jewish Association spokesperson Carinne Sjöberg told SVT.

Sjoberg told the BBC that the neo-Nazi group Nordfront was responsible for the campaign of intimidation and threats. She said the decision to close the center was made after the windows of one of the community’s members were smashed.

“My mother and father are (Holocaust) survivors, so this is not OK. Enough is enough. It was like stepping into their shoes in the 1930s,” she said.

The city of some 120,000 is home to some 50 Jews, according to a Haaretz profile of the Jewish center there from 2016. Sjoberg told the Israeli paper that she founded the organization several years ago to give the city’s Jews a home and educate against racism and anti-Semitism.

Two years ago, residents of Umea held a march to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the campaign of violence that the Nazis unleashed 78 years ago against German and Austrian Jews, but excluded the town’s Jewish community from participating in the event, according to the BBC.

The event had turned into an anti-racism rally and some feared clashes with pro-Palestinian demonstrators, according to reports.

Isak Reichel, the secretary general of Sweden’s central council of Jewish communities, told the BBC that Jews in some Swedish localities face discrimination and harassment.

“We’ve had problems with neo-Nazis in Gothenburg and Umea, but in other cities like Stockholm we feel safer,” he said, but he added that in the southern Swedish city of Malmo Jews have been threatened by Islamist groups.

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