Reepalu 'pleased' with Obama envoy talks
Published: 25 Apr 2012 16:32 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Apr 2012 16:32 GMT+02:00
Controversial Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu said he was ”pleased” with the meeting with US president Barack Obama’s expert on anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal which took place during her visit to the city on Wednesday.
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“I think that we had a good conversation,” he said to local paper Sydsvenskan.
According to Reepalu, Rosenthal is very concerned about the increase in hate crimes that is happening not only in Sweden, but in the rest of Europe.
“She was very clear and said that anti-Semitism isn’t worse than any other racism,” Reepalu told the paper.
According to Reepalu, Rosenthal stressed the difference between anti-Semitism and a warranted criticism of the state of Israel.
“On the other hand it is important not to put the blame on Jews in Malmö or any other place for injustices committed by Israel, “ he told the paper.
Mayor Reepalu has been likened by some observers to British ex-mayor Ken Livingstone for his habit to put his foot in his mouth.
His recent statements in right-leaning magazine NEO that the Jewish community in Malmö had been infiltrated by the Sweden Democrats ruffled a lot of feathers in Sweden and abroad. According to Reepalu, Rosenthal mentioned his gaffe in their conversation.
“It came up and she said that it is very important to watch one’s words and be careful of anything that can be interpreted as anti-Semitic,” Reepalu told Sydsvenskan.
Reepalu nevertheless claimed that comments of his which cause a stir usually do so because of misrepresentation or misinterpretation. But he admitted to the paper that his choice of words has sometimes been rather unfortunate.
Rosenthal’s interest in Reepalu and his public statements, as the top local politician in the area, was also based on a misunderstanding, according to Reepalu.
“She believed that I was the highest authority for the Malmö police force, and that it is my fault that the police aren’t investigating hate crimes or allocating resources to protect the synagogue. And it was very good that we cleared that up,” he said.