(October 11, 2018 / EJP) A fire that broke out at the house of a Jewish politician in the city of Lund, in southern Sweden, was likely a deliberate anti-Semitic attack, and followed threats and harassment of local public figures with a Jewish background, according to local press reports.
Lund is located near Malmö, which in recent years has seen a spike in anti-Semitic incidents—from harassment and vandalism to violent attacks against members of the Jewish community. It has prompted many Jews to leave the country.
Police were called to a fire at a private property in Lund, owned by a local politician, shortly after 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Police later said that several people in the same row of terraced homes had been evacuated, but no one had been injured in the fire.
The chairman of the Malmö Jewish Community Fredrik Sieradzki told The Local that the property owner had previously received anti-Semitic threats.
“This person has been threatened and harassed earlier this year, and been given messages that were clearly anti-Semitic. We had already been helping her with these threats, and our suspicion is very strong that it’s an anti-Semitic attack. Police also see this as an arson,” he said.
The organization called the fire “an attack on Swedish democracy,” and said that it had a “strong suspicion” that there was an anti-Semitic motive.
It is the second apparent arson attack against a Jewish public figure living in Lund this year.
“Earlier this year, another person with a Jewish background, who has been active in different Jewish venues, had a similar thing happen to him,” said Sieradzki.
The World Jewish Congress condemned the arson targeting the Jewish woman in Lund. ‘‘Swedish authorities must do everything in their power to prevent such attacks from happening again,’’ said WJC CEO and executive vice president Robert Singer.
“The World Jewish Congress, and our president Ronald S. Lauder, stand with our affiliated community in Sweden in denouncing this anti-Semitic attack in the strongest possible terms,” said Singer, who is currently visiting with the Jewish community in Denmark to mark the 75th anniversary of the rescue of Danish Jews to Sweden during the Holocaust. “We urge the Malmo Police Department to treat this violent incident with the severity it deserves, and hope that the perpetrator will be swiftly located and brought to justice.”
“Sweden has seen a frightening resurgence in antisemitism recently, among both Islamists and neo-Nazi elements who feel empowered and emboldened to target innocent people with violent rhetoric and actions,” he said. “It is inconceivable that the Jews of Sweden should have to live in fear or hide their identity because of threats of physical or verbal attack.”