Thursday, 19 Sep 2019 - 19 of Elul, 5779

Sweden’s Prime Minister: ‘Jewish life is an integral part of Swedish society’

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Stefan Löfven was reacting to a letter sent by World Jewish Congress  CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer in which he called on the Swedish government to ban the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) and to engage in a series of measures to enhance security for the Jewish community.

STOCKHOLM—Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has pledged to address the concerns of the Jewish community by taking a number of practical steps to curb neo-Nazi groups demonstrations and increase protection of the local Jewish community.

Löfven was reacting to a letter sent by World Jewish Congress  CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer in which he called on the Swedish government to ban the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) and to engage in a series of measures to enhance security for the Jewish community.

The neo-Nazi group recently staged marched in the cities of Kungälv and Ludvika. ‘’It is a disgrace that the scum of history is rearing its ugly head today again,” Singer said.

In his reply, Löfven said Swedish criminal law already effectively prohibits all forms of racist expression. He noted however that further legislative action might be need to address the threats posed by organized groups.

He said the Swedish government will therefore “shortly appoint a government inquiry to look into a ban on racist organizations and the criminalization of participation in such organizations.”

The Swedish premier added that his government “recognize(s) that fundamental to this issue is ensuring that hate crime is highlighted and punished, and that physical security is improved,” and as such has tasked its defense research agency to survey online extremist propaganda to “strengthen the ability of society as a whole to fight it.”

He also addressed Singer’s concern regarding the need for further Holocaust education to this regard, noting that the government was engaging in a number of educational initiatives and programming and “improving the conditions” for remembrance visits to Holocaust memorials for schools and others.

Furthermore, Löfven wrote, the Swedish government was allocating greater resources for the prevention of foreign and domestic terrorism, and its police force has established democracy and hate crime groups in key regions.

The Prime Minister responded to the appeal of the Jewish community to take concrete steps to increase the protection of the community, including further alleviating the financial burden of security, Löfven noted that his government is “doubling state support” to strengthen security at faith-based facilities, and “broadening the support to include non-confessional Jewish associations” and “making more tools available” including facilitating the use of surveillance cameras.

The Swedish government will also “continue implementing the national plan adopted in 2016 to combat racism and hate crime, which include measures against antisemitism and antisemitic hate crimes, Löfven wrote.

The government hopes that the upcoming international conference on Holocaust remembrance, set to take place in Sweden in 2020, will serve not only as an “important forum for broad dialogue” on these issues, but also “represent a global stance against antisemitism at this crucial time,” Löfven wrote.

“Jewish life is an integral part of Swedish society. Wherever and whenever it is threatened or challenges, it will be defended. Of this, I assure you, there is no doubt,” he concluded in his letter.

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