Malmö, Sweden's third-largest city, is an important, visible part of Sweden. If you read the Municipality of Malmö's political objectives, which the Municipal Council of Malmö has endorsed, you will see that "racism, discrimination and hate crimes do not belong in open Malmö." The reality, however, is different. Anti-Semitism there has reached bizarre levels -- with politicians and other policymakers in Sweden doing nothing about it.
On April 30, 2016, the Islamic imam and preacher Salman Al-Ouda, who has been described in the Swedish media as a "Salafist megastar," visited Malmö. Al-Ouda apparently inspired Osama bin Laden, has claimed that the Holocaust was a myth, and is known for making anti-Semitic statements.
The first question anyone should ask is: Who invited such a person to visit Malmö?
It turned out that it was a politician from the Green Party, currently part of the Swedish government's ruling coalition, and which also governs in Malmö locally, together with the Social Democrats.
The second question that anyone should ask is: What kind of reception did Al-Ouda receive in such a large Swedish city?
Well, Al-Ouda got to speak at one of Malmö's most famous conference facilities, Amiralen, described on the official website of the Municipality of Malmö as a part of the city's cultural heritage. Al-Ouda was also invited by the Alhambra Muslim student association, at Malmö University. In other words, even though Malmö's policies officially state that racism has no place in Malmö, Al-Ouda, an anti-Semite, was treated as a diplomat.
On May 6, just a week after Al-Ouda's visit, the fourteenth "Palestinians in Europe Conference" was held in Malmö. One of the conference's organizers, the Palestinian Return Centre, has close ties to the Hamas terrorist organization.
The Palestinians in Europe Conference was held at Malmömässan, another famous conference center in Malmö. When a Swedish pro-Israel organization, Perspektiv På Israel, sent an email to the CEO of Malmömässan, Lasse Larsson, to warn him that an anti-Semite was going to speak at his conference center, Larsson replied:
"We, MalmöMässan, do not take positions on the substance of the matter, but have entrusted this to our authorities that have given the go-ahead and therefore we will allow the conference to be conducted."
The problem is that if you allow someone to spread hatred against Jews, you need to have a clear position. Would he have allowed the hall to be used to spread hate speech against African-Swedes or homosexuals or women?
In Malmö, when it comes to Middle Eastern anti-Semitism, there is currently no clear position from any major institution.
When it was revealed that one of the speakers at the Palestinians in Europe Conference was to be the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ekrim Said Sabri, who has also repeatedly made anti-Semitic remarks, an announcement came that two Swedish Members of Parliament, Hillevi Larsson (Social Democrat) and Daniel Sestrajcic (Left Party), would also speak at it. This arrangement appeared to be no coincidence. In October 2015, both of these MPs spoke in Malmö at a rally in which participants celebrated knife attacks against Jews in Israel. Additionally, when the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Malmö in 2013, it was Daniel Sestrajcic, then chairman of Malmö's Municipal Cultural board, who argued that Eurovision should suspend Israel.
After the Perspektiv På Israel organization revealed that Sestrajcic and Larsson were to participate in the Palestinians in Europe Conference with Sheikh Sabri, a known anti-Semite, Israel's ambassador to Sweden wrote a critical op-ed for a major Swedish newspaper -- after which the two MPs cancelled their appearance.
Wait, it gets worse. Prior to the Palestinian conference, a public school class in Malmö participated in an video advertisement promoting it. The advertisement was filmed on the premises of the Apelgårdsskolan public elementary school. The idea that in Sweden a public school openly endorses a Palestinian conference to which an anti-Semite is invited to speak may also sound bizarre, but that is exactly what took place.
As this author also happens to be a member of Malmö's school board, it seemed normal to contact the school's director and the municipal councilor responsible for primary schools, to report the advertisement. The councilor never responded -- but the school's director did. The advertising video, he said, was just a "call to participate in the conference."
What do you do when anti-Semitism in Sweden's third-largest city is so normalized that children in a public school can endorse a conference with anti-Semitic elements?
Although the school director's reply was published in the online magazine Situation Malmö (of which this author is the editor), the media in Malmö was, as always, silent.
Apelgårdsskolan elementary school in Malmö (left) openly endorsed a conference to which Sheikh Ekrim Said Sabri, who has repeatedly made anti-Semitic remarks, was invited to speak. Right: Hillevi Larsson, a Social Democratic MP representing a district of Malmö, accepted an invitation to speak at the same conference where Sheikh Sabri was scheduled to speak. Larsson is pictured showing off a Palestinian flag and a "map of Palestine" in which Israel does not exist.
The topic of anti-Semitism is so normalized in Malmö that when children are promoting a conference with anti-Semitic elements, it is not something the media even writes about. The omission seems part of an editorial policy of deliberately choosing not to report about Islamic and Palestinian anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism, is, in fact, such a gigantic problem in Malmö that even senior politicians and officials in the city seem not to understand how it became so normalized. They seem to dismiss it as part of a non-Swedish culture that, in a multicultural society, must be tolerated, even accommodated.
It is only in Muslim countries -- and evidently extreme liberal countries such as Sweden -- that a public school could promote a conference with anti-Semitic elements without anyone reacting.
That this happens in one of Sweden's largest cities, means that leading politicians in the country are aware of this rough anti-Semitic wave, but prefer not to do anything about it.
Some of the reasons for this preference are:
- Large-scale immigration from countries where anti-Semitism is normalized.
- A strong pro-Palestinian engagement among Swedish politicians that has resulted in a totally surreal debate about the Israel-Palestine debate, in which Israel is unjustly demonized.
- A desire among political parties in Sweden to win the votes of immigrants.
- A Swedish multiculturalism that is so uncritical of foreign cultures that it cannot differentiate between culture and racism.
- A fear of sounding critical of immigration.
- Important Swedish institutions, such as the Church of Sweden, legitimizing anti-Semitism by endorsing the Kairos Palestine document.
Sweden has officially surrendered to the Middle Eastern anti-Semitism.
The period of April-May 2016, and the visits by assorted anti-Semites to Malmö, show a regrettable pattern. In Sweden in general, and Malmö in particular, there are too many politicians, senior officials, journalists, heads of schools and companies that do not distance themselves from anti-Semitism.
Such a condition cannot only be described as bizarre; it is extremely dangerous.
There are Jewish communities in Malmö and elsewhere in Sweden. Jews are one of Sweden's five recognized minorities. As one of the countries that has joined the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Sweden has an obligation to stop the normalization of anti-Semitism in Sweden.
When politicians and senior officials let children in Sweden's third-largest city endorse a racist conference, with which even the most extreme anti-Israel Swedish MPs refuse to associate, it is obvious that Sweden wishes to lose its fight against Middle Eastern anti-Semitism. Allowing schoolchildren to endorse anti-Semitism deserves nothing but condemnation, whether in Gaza or in Sweden. We expect this pattern in Sweden of indulging anti-Semitism to be fixed.
If there are children in Swedish public schools today who are promoting an anti-Semitic conference, what will these children do in the future? In a European continent where Western values are being challenged by Islamic values and European security is threatened by Islamic extremists, these children are being abandoned and being forced into choosing racist values, because Swedish authorities refuse to say "No" to Middle Eastern anti-Semitism.
The more normalized Middle Eastern anti-Semitism becomes in Sweden, the more you see Palestinian and other Arabic and Islamic organizations pushing the limits of how openly they can express it. You start asking yourself, will Sweden someday become a country without Jews. And if that happens, what does that say about Sweden? And who will come next after the Jews? To cleanse a country of Jews through massive Islamic immigration is no better than doing the same thing through cattle-cars or concentration camps.
Is Sweden really turning into a country where Jews are no longer welcome?
Have the institutions in Sweden really chosen to lose the fight against Middle Eastern anti-Semitism and to let extremist Islam win?
Nima Gholam Ali Pour is a member of the board of education in the Swedish city of Malmö and is engaged in several Swedish think tanks concerned with the Middle East. He is also editor for the social conservative website Situation Malmö. Gholam Ali Pour is the author of the Swedish book "Därför är mångkultur förtryck"("Why multiculturalism is oppression").