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JEWISH

Talks called over ‘anti-Semitic’ Malmö mayor

Concerns expressed by Sweden's Jewish community over the "anti-Semitic" rhetoric of Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu have prompted Social Democrat head Stefan Löfven to call a meeting to discuss the issue.

Talks called over 'anti-Semitic' Malmö mayor

In an interview published last week in the liberal-leaning magazine, Reepalu alleged that the Sweden Democrats, a political party with a clear anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim line which has its roots in Sweden’s neo-Nazi movement, had “infiltrated” the Jewish community in Malmö to foster anti-Muslim sentiments.

While Reepalu later said he had “no basis” for the remarks, the interview riled Sweden’s Jewish community and prompted the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities (Judiska centralrådet i Sverige – JC) to send a letter to Löfven blasting Reepalu’s “anti-Semitic” rhetoric.

Speaking with the TT news agency following the release of the Jewish community’s letter, Reepalu once again defended himself.

“I’ve never been an anti-Semite and never will be,” he said.

In response to the letter, Löfven and Social Democrat party secretary Carin Jämtin have agreed to meet with Jewish community leaders to discuss the comments and actions of the Malmö mayor, who has now also come in for criticism from his own party colleagues.

“I still have confidence in Ilmar, but these comments are extremely unfortunate. It doesn’t help that he says that he’s not an anti-Semite,” Heléne Fritzon, chair of the Social Demcrats’ party chair in Skåne to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

She explained that she has received a number of letters from party members expressing their disappointment.

Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, a Social Democrat and deputy chair of the Malmö municipal council, also expressed her frustration over Reepalu’s comments.

“His comments create mistrust. And damage relationships which we must now try and rebuild,” she told DN.

While some party colleagues are have expressed concerns of Reepalu’s statements, no prominent Social Democrats have openly called for him to be removed from office or formally disciplined over the issue.

“There have been statements that can give one cause for reflection. But on the whole, Ilmar is a good and worthy representative for social democracy,” Anna Johansson, Social Demcrat party chair in Gothenburg, told the paper.

The Local/dl

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JEWISH

Malmö anti-Semitism made Danish star leave The Bridge

A spike in anti-Jewish sentiment in the Swedish city that plays host to much of the action in The Bridge contributed to Kim Bodnia’s decision to leave the show, the actor told an Israeli TV station.

Malmö anti-Semitism made Danish star leave The Bridge
Kim Bodnia. Photo: Malthe Risager Jørgensen, DR

Fans of the Swedish-Danish co-production were devastated when it was announced that the Danish detective Martin Rohde would be written out of the show. 

Bodnia was a huge hit with viewers, but the Dane said he wanted out as he was unhappy with the script and his character’s development. 

Speaking to Walla in Israel, the 50-year-old actor, who is Jewish, has now revealed that anti-Semitism was another reason for ditching the crime drama that has wowed audiences worldwide:

“It’s growing, especially in Malmö where we shot The Bridge in Sweden. It’s not very comfortable to be there as a Jewish person. So of course this has something to do with why it’s easy for me to say no to working in Sweden.”

Bodnia said he also thought the actors were given too little input into their character development in the third season. But if he had any hesitation about leaving, the decision was made easier by anti-Jewish developments in Sweden’s third-largest city. 

“It’s very easy, when they didn’t have the script right, I can say: Well, I don’t feel so safe there. It’s not funny, it’s growing and we have to deal with it every day and we have to fight against it,” said Bodnia, who also noted that Denmark faced similar challenges. 

With Rohde out of the frame, the eccentric Malmö cop Saga Norén instead had to get used to working with a new partner from the other side of the Öresund strait in the third season of The Bridge, which aired in Scandinavia late last year. 

An escalation in hate crimes against Jews has seen many families leave Sweden in recent years.  

The head of the Swedish Jewish Community, Lena Posner-Körösi, told The Local in the wake of last year’s terror attacks in Copenhagen that threats from Islamists in particular had become commonplace. 

Heavily armed police were stationed outside Jewish institutions across Sweden amid fears of attacks (see video below). 

US President Barack Obama even sent a special envoy to Stockholm and Malmö to see how Swedish cities were dealing with threats to Jews. 

Lena Posner-Körösi welcomed that move, telling The Local:

“What we are facing now is not just an issue for the Jewish community, it is a threat to the whole western democratic world…we appreciate everyone who is concerned.”