Protesters chant ‘bomb Israel’ and burn flag outside synagogue in Sweden

No police protection seen at sole Jewish house of worship in Malmo, where extremist Muslims have been harassing Jews for years

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

A demonstrator burns an Israeli flag outside a synagogue in Malmo, Sweden, on November 4, 2023. (The Council of Swedish Jewish communities)
A demonstrator burns an Israeli flag outside a synagogue in Malmo, Sweden, on November 4, 2023. (The Council of Swedish Jewish communities)

A demonstrator burned an Israeli flag outside the only synagogue in the Swedish city of Malmo, on Saturday as about a dozen other protesters chanted “bomb Israel” while waving Palestinian flags.

Videos of the incident showed no police presence at the synagogue, which has been the target of several antisemitic acts of vandalism for years. The anti-Israel rally was to protest Israel’s attacks on Hamas in Gaza.

The European Jewish Congress on Sunday condemned the incident. “Intimidating the Jewish community and blaming them for the events in the Middle East is blatant antisemitism,” the group wrote on X.

On October 7, about 3,000 Hamas terrorists staged a cross-border assault on Israel, where they murdered some 1,400 people, and abducted some 240 more into Gaza.

Thousands of Gazans are believed to have died in Israeli strikes that Israel’s government says are meant to topple the terrorist group’s regime and free the hostages.

The conflict has triggered dozens of anti-Israel protests and riots across Europe and beyond. Some have descended into riots. Jewish communities in Europe are reporting a surge of antisemitic hate crimes, including multiple cases of assault.

Police detain a protester during a rally against Israel’s bombing of Hamas in Gaza outside the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, Germany on October 18, 2023. (John Macdougall / AFP)

In Germany, police suspect that unidentified assailants had tried to torch a synagogue. In Paris, police arrested a man they suspected torched the front door of a Jewish couple and in Lyon, a woman was stabbed in her home on Saturday in what police suspect was an antisemitic assault. She suffered minor injuries that required a few stitches to her abdomen, the news site reported.

Malmo, a southern port city, has a large Muslim minority that, according to some estimates, accounts for about a third of the city’s population of roughly 300,000.

The city’s Jewish population has declined from about 800 in 1997 to fewer than 400 in 2019. In 2011, Malmo saw massive anti-Israel demonstrations and antisemitic rioting in response to plans to host Israel’s tennis team.

The city’s synagogue has also been subjected to arson attacks on at least two occasions.

Aron Verständig, the president of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities. (Courtesy of Verständig)

Aron Verständig, chair of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, called on Malmo Mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh to condemn the incident.

On Sunday, her account on X and the city’s official website featured no reference to the incident. Her office did not immediately reply to a request for comment by The Times of Israel.

The main synagogue in Malmö, Sweden. (CC BY-SA jorchr/Wikimedia Commons)

Fredrik Sieradzki, a spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Malmo, criticized police for not preventing the actions of the protesters, calling their apparent failure to intervene “reprehensible.”

The press department of The Swedish Police Authority did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Sieradzki’s allegation.

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