Sweden to host international conference against anti-Semitism
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Sweden to host international conference against anti-Semitism

Gathering of world leaders to be held in 2020, 75 years after Auschwitz liberated; Swedish PM: ‘Anti-Semitism isn’t only a Jewish problem, it is a poison for all of society’

Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, left, of the Social Democrats, Swedish Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party leader Stefan Loefven, center, and Roko Kursar of The Liberals give a joint press conference on May 24, 2019 in Malmo, Sweden, announcing the country will hold an international conference against anti-Semitism in 2020. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency/AFP)
Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, left, of the Social Democrats, Swedish Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party leader Stefan Loefven, center, and Roko Kursar of The Liberals give a joint press conference on May 24, 2019 in Malmo, Sweden, announcing the country will hold an international conference against anti-Semitism in 2020. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency/AFP)

STOCKHOLM — Sweden will host an international conference against anti-Semitism in memory of the Holocaust in October 2020, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced Friday.

The gathering heads of state and government will be held in Malmo, southern Sweden, on October 27 and 28 — 20 years after the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust and 75 years after the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“You find anti-Semitism in Sweden, in Europe and all over the world. Anti-Semitism isn’t only a Jewish problem, it is a poison for all of society,” Stefan Lofven told AFP in an interview.

He had previously expressed his willingness to host a major conference on anti-Semitism.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven of the Social Democratic Party talks to media in Stockholm, on September 9, 2018. (AFP Photo/TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer)

But the official announcement, at the end of the campaign for the European elections, also served as a reminder that they are “all the more important as the election is a referendum on populist forces.”

“It’s a choice of values, for equal rights, it’s about standing up for your beliefs,” he added.

While relations with Israel have been strained since the Nordic state’s recognition of a Palestinian state by Lofven’s first government in 2014, the Social Democratic leader has taken a stance against anti-Semitism.

After the 2015 terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, the Simon Wiesenthal Center called for a European conference against anti-Semitism.

Malmo had offered to host the conference, recalling the city had welcomed Danish Jews fleeing from Nazi-occupied Denmark during the Second World War, as well as hundreds of concentration camp survivors.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 Jews live in Sweden, a country of about 10 million inhabitants.

It is also home to several hundred thousand Muslims, including a large community in Malmo.

Illustrative: In this March 3, 2010 photo, a man sits behind a glassed-in reception area of the high security Jewish community center located in central Malmo, Sweden. (AP Photo/Pamela Juhl)

Sweden has taken in 400,000 migrants since 2014, more than any other European country per capita, mostly from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

According to the latest figures from Sweden’s National Council for Crime Prevention in 2016, only three percent of crimes reported as of a religious, ethnic, political or sexual nature were anti-Semitic.

Supporters of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement chant slogans during a demonstration at the Kungsholmstorg square in Stockholm, Sweden on August 25, 2018. (AFP/ TT News Agency / Fredrik Persson)

But Jewish community groups say they have experienced an increase in hostile acts and words because of their faith. Several attacks in recent years have targeted Jewish-owned businesses or cultural and religious sites, particularly in Malmo.

The neo-Nazi movement, although marginal with 100 or so activists according to the anti-racist foundation Expo, has become more prominent, taking advantage of laws protecting freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate.

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