Löfven defends colleague in anti-Semitism row

The embattled Social Democrat Omar Mustafa has spoken out about anti-Semitism claims laid at his door after he was elected to the governing board of the opposition party.

Omar Mustafa was chosen to sit on the governing board of the left-of-centre opposition party at last weekend’s party congress. He is also chairman of the Islamic Association (Islamska förbundet) in Sweden, a group which has invited speakers to Sweden with known anti-Semitic views.

“I think those kinds of people should not be invited unless they have strongly distanced themselves from earlier hateful comments,” Mustafa wrote on Friday in an open letter to the tabloid Aftonbladet in which he also said he understood the criticism of his acts.

While party secretary Carin Jämtin and former leader Mona Sahlin both took turns to smooth over or lambast the decision to elect him respectively, on Friday the current leader Stefan Löfven also spoke out on the matter.

“(Mustafa) has himself said that he didn’t think it was OK to give these people access, and because he has also said he stands up against anti-Semtimism, I think the situation is OK,” Löfven told Aftonbladet.

“But he has to continue to live up to this.”

It was the Swedish anti-racism magazine Expo, known internationally as the publication of Millennium trilogy author Stieg Larsson, that revealed that one speaker invited by Mustafa, Egyptian Salah Sultan, has previously slandered the Jewish community in an interview with al-Jazeera by saying they kill Christians at Easter. Another speaker invited by the Swedish Islamic group, Ragheb Al-Serjany, has publicly said Jews control the international media.

The Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism (Svenska kommittén mot antisemitism – SKMA) has followed the case closely, with its chairman Willy Silberstein quoted in local and international media.

“When you are an established organization and invite speakers, you give them legitimacy,” Silberstein told The Local on Thursday.

“It’s the same when Islamophobes invite haters from Britain. You have to say no to racism regardless of where it comes from.”

TT/The Local/at

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