Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom on Sunday condemned the firebombing of a synagogue in Gothenburg the day before, and calls in Malmo for violence against Jews, saying anti-Semitism had no place in Swedish society.
More than a dozen men hurled firebombs at the synagogue in the southern Sweden city, hours after locals marched there against the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
No one was injured and there was no major damage to property in the attack Saturday night, the online edition of the Expressen daily reported.
“The attack against the Synagogue in Gothenburg and calls for violence against Jews in Malmo are deplorable and totally unacceptable,” Wallstrom tweeted. “Anti-Semitism, threats and violence have no place in our society.”
Wallstrom has in the past had been snubbed by Israeli officials over various controversial comments she made, including a demand that Israelis be investigated for alleged extrajudicial killings of Palestinians.
Dvir Maoz, the World Bnei Akiva youth movement’s emissary in Gothenburg, told JTA that the attack in Gothenburg happened a little after 10 p.m. local time, while youths from the Jewish community were attending a party inside the synagogue complex. Looking outside from inside the synagogue lobby area, he said he saw in the corner of his eye “a ball of fire” approaching the building.
“The guards saw it in the security cameras and called police right away,” he said. “The children were stressed, it was the first time they had ever experienced a terrorist attack near them.”
The children’s parents were called to take them home after police arrived at the scene and scanned the area to make sure it was safe to come out, Maoz said. The culprits had already left by the time police arrived. The building did not sustain any substantial damage that he could see, he added.
The day before the attack, which police are investigating, several hundred people marched through the southern Swedish city of Malmo in protest of US President Donald Trump’s Wednesday declaration that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. During the Friday night demonstration, chants about shooting Jews were heard.
“We have announced the intifada from Malmö. We want our freedom back, and we will shoot the Jews,” some in the rally of 200 demonstrators shouted, according to the public radio station. Intifada is the Arabic-language word for a violent uprising.
After the Malmo march, Wallstrom condemned the chants as “totally unacceptable.”
Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson tweeted that “it is horrendous… to invoke violence against Jews,” and promised that if any of those who shouted the slogans could be identified, they would be prosecuted.
In Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city, about 7 percent of 285,000 inhabitants were born in the Middle East, according to city statistics.
In an address from the White House last Wednesday, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality. The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
At other protest rallies over the move in Austria and France, participants chanted, respectively, in Arabic about an ancient massacre of Jews and freedom for Palestinian terrorists.