Ilmar Reepalu has been Malmö mayor for 15 years

Malmö Mayor Threatened in Anti-Semitic Row

The mayor of the southern Swedish city of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu has revealed that he's received an unusually large amount of hate mail and even death threats from home and mostly abroad for his comments represented in the media where he suggested Jews had only themselves to blame for a growing number of anti-Semitic attacks, and compared the vitriol to the situation faced by former outspoken prime minister Olof Palme before he was murdered.

"Several of the mails are very unpleasant," he told TT.

Ilmar Reepalu landed in hot water for comments he made in the local newspaper Skånska Dagbladet where he seemed to attach blame to Jews themselves for the paper's series of reports on the growing number of anti-Semitic hate crimes in Malmö which has even led to some Jews leaving the city. Reepalu was quoted as saying that perhaps Jews in the city should take a clear stand against Israeli policy in the Middle East.

Reepalu responded by saying that he is not anti-Semitic and had been misrepresented in the paper but was sent by his Social Democratic party leader Mona Sahlin to conciliatory talks with Jewish community leaders.

The mayor of the city, which has a large middle eastern descent, was subsequently involved in a heated debate with media figure Svante Weyler on Swedish public service Radio when he was accused of making all Jews in Malmö answerable for what the state of Israel does in Gaza.

Last year, Malmö mayor made the decision to keep all supporters away from a Davis Cup match pitting Sweden against Israel in the city. He said he was worried about security. During the match there were large scale anti-Israeli demonstrations outside.

According to police in the south of Sweden, the number of listed anti-Semitic hate crimes in Malmö last year doubled, including such incidents as desecration of Jewish burial sites , verbal and physical intimidation and the burning down of a Jewish community chapel.

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