Swedish Jews outraged after authorities permit neo-Nazi march near synagogue on Yom Kippur

Swedish Jews outraged after authorities permit neo-Nazi march near synagogue on Yom Kippur
Sweden’s Jewish community has called on police to stop a neo-Nazi group from marching near a synagogue in the country’s second largest city on the day of the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, this year falling on September 30.

“It’s the day of the year when many Jews who don’t normally go to the synagogue will gather there. On this day, the police have decided to grant the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement permission to march through Gothenburg, no more than a stone’s throw away from the synagogue,” Aron Verständig, chairman of The Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, and Allan Stutzinky, chairman of the Jewish Community in Gothenburg, wrote in an op-ed published in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, as cited by The Local.

Apart from “fear for our security”, the op-ed argues that the march “evokes uncomfortable associations”: during the Holocaust, “it wasn’t unusual for the German Nazis to conduct their horrendous atrocities on the most important days of the Jewish calendar.”

Initially, the neo-Nazi group NRM [Nordic Resistance Movement] asked to march on one of the Gothenburg’s major streets, Kungsportsavenyn, but the city authorities demanded that they change the route – which led to the new route passing quite close to the synagogue.

“Let them stay in the periphery, where they belong,” Verständig and Stutzinky said in the op-ed.

In another op-ed, penned for the Jerusalem Post, Ilya Meyer, former deputy chair of the West Sweden branch of the Sweden-Israel Friendship Association, argues that the Jewish community is at risk from the demonstration.

READ MORE: ‘We know where you live’: Swedish Jewish center closed after Nazi threats

“Jews both young and elderly will be coming to and from the synagogue all day long. As such, having a Nazi demonstration route that takes a few hundred uniformed racists close to our main doors is very much a security issue. Not an emotive one. It is not our sensibilities that are under threat, but our physical well-being,” Meyer wrote.

“It is a risk that the Gothenburg police are refusing to acknowledge. And a refusal that is raising more than a few eyebrows here on Sweden’s west coast,” he added.

Meyer concluded that another kind of anti-Semitism now exists in Sweden, with Muslim worshippers showing it on regular basis.

“In Sweden, one single Nazi anti-Semitic event is gratefully embraced as a means of absolving Swedish society from the responsibility of dealing with 365 Islamist anti-Semitic events a year.”

2016 became a record year for neo-Nazi groups in Sweden, with over 3,000 activities conducted by them, according to Swedish anti-racism foundation Expo’s annual report. It was the highest number since the foundation began carrying out the report in 2008.