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Sweden's Jews still face threat says Obama team

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Sweden's Jews still face threat says Obama team
Malmö Mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh and President Obama's special envoy Ira Forman. Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT
16:00 CET+01:00
The situation for Jews in Sweden has improved, but there is still cause for concern, said President Obama's special envoy against anti-Semitism, Ira Forman, during a high profile visit to Malmö on Monday.

“I have reason to believe that there is a threat of violence against Jewish groups in Europe, and those threats definitely exist in Malmö too,” said Forman at a visit to the city's Jewish Association.

Forman's predecessor, Hannah Rosenthal, came to Malmö two years ago and criticized comments by the city's former Mayor Ilmar Reepalu, who was frequently accused of using anti-Semitic language during his tenure.

“A lot has happened since the previous visit. I find that there is a knowledge of the problem and an awareness that unfortunately did not exist then,” Malmö's new Social Democrat Mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh told news wire TT.

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Two new directives were issued in Sweden after the deadly shootings in Copenhagen, one of which targeted a synagogue, ensuring that police officers guarding Jewish buildings carry machine guns.

But Forman said that although this move was important, it was not enough.

“Security will not solve the underlying problems of anti-Semitism,” he told TT.

Forman has been working for the US government since 2013, following 30 years of experience in Jewish communal work and public service.

He held talks with Jews in Stockholm on Friday before heading to the southern city of Malmö.

“It was a very good meeting. He was well read up on the situation in Sweden and listened to how we perceive these concerns. It felt very genuine,” Lena Posner-Körösi, President of the Council of Sweden's Jewish communities, told The Local on Monday.

“We talked about how he views the development in Europe, anti-Semitism today and the parallels he sees between the levels of threat in Europe and in Sweden. He especially pointed out anti-Semitism in Hungary, where it goes all the way up to government level, which obviously is not the case in Sweden,” she added.

There has been rising concern over attacks on synagogues and Jewish centres in Sweden since the recent Copenhagen and Paris shootings. Last month up to 1,000 Swedes formed a human 'ring of peace' around Stockholm's main synagogue in a protest against extremism as a response to the fears.

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