HRS International

Echoes of the 1930s in the streets of Malmö

In this piece our man in Sweden, Philip Wendahl, weighs in on the chilling events currently playing out in the city of Malmö. Wendahl, who has studied human rights and theology, is currently writing a book about multiculturalism and Islam.

By Philip WendahlLast year in Malmö, the number of hate crimes against Jews quadrupled in comparison with the preceding year. The grim figures are especially surprising given that, as is usual with hate crimes, many victims do not dare to report them out of fear that doing so might bring on further harassment.
As the same time that this is happening, the city’s leading politician, Social Democrat Ilmar Reepalu, maintains that there have been no attacks on Jews and that if Jews wish to leave Malmö for Israel it is not the city’s concern. One is tempted to pinch oneself in the arm in hopes of waking up from all this. The situation I am describing is that of Sweden in the year 2010, yet the odor of 1930s Germany lingers in Reepalu’s words: there have been no attacks on Jews. That the harassment of Malmö’s Jews is principally the work of Muslims is a source of bewilderment for Swedish politics, which is fixated on, first, ethnicizing conflicts and then assuming the perspective of the victimized minority. At best, the anti-racist groups blind themselves to the current reality, and at worst they choose instead to take on the alleged enemy known as Islamophobia. That there is Muslim anti-Semitism in our country should not surprise anyone – not even the sleepy Social Democrats – but Reepalu’s words give it a tacit approval, and for this reason Swedish politicians share the blame for these atrocities which are an offense against individuals as well as aganst our civilized society. Malmö’s politicians should stand up for the Jewish minority whose numbers are lower than those of the Muslim street terrorists and should defend them. There are about 1500 Jews in Malmö and (one hopes) an equal number of friends of Israel. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Malmö with Muslim or Arabic backgrounds. The Swedish state, too, in its dealings with those who come from homophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and anti-democratic countries around the world, should consider it an imperative to stress our nation’s democratic and humanistic values.

We must stop being ashamed of our openness and stop apologizing for our values. And the Swedish nation must abandon the legalistic multicultural ideology that all cultures are always equal and equally admirable.

Multiethnicity without regard to people’s skin color, sexual orientation, gender, or gender expression is a cornerstone of democracy, but values should not be relative. Even “secular” Muslims, after all, come from countries where the regimes are brutal toward Christians and Jews; to expect that these views will magically be left behind when these people cross the nation’s borders is naïve and dangerous.

But while the streets fall into the hands of the strong, Malmö’s own strong man not only turns a blind eye to the anti-Semitism that is washing over the world, but spurs it on.