racism

'Travel warning' for Malmö to stay

3:06 min

The Swedish town of Malmö was declared a dangerous destination for Jews by a well-known US organisation that fights antisemitism - the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Now representatives from the centre are in Sweden, meeting figures, including a Swedish mayor that they have accused of stoking hatred against Jews.

In December the centre issued a travel warning for Sweden. The warning advises "extreme caution when visiting southern Sweden". The centre accuses the Swedish authorities of not acting on 'dozens' of cases of abuse against Jews.

And the involvement of Malmö's mayor, Ilmar Reepalu is also cited by the Wiesenthal centre as a reason for its travel warning. In the past the mayor has been quoted saying that Jews should distance themselves from Israel, in order to avoid being the target of attacks.

Reepalu has since said that he was mis-quoted. But, this week representatives from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre are in Sweden, for meetings with Swedish politicians - including the mayor of Malmö.

Ilmar Reepalu says that it was a very good meeting - and that above all what he wanted was to learn from the Centre's experience, of how to fight hate crimes.

He adds that the representatives from the Wiesenthal Centre have also visited mosques in Malmö, and seen that there is also a feeling of threat among people there, and also among the Roma. Reepalu says that these three groups feel very much under pressure right now.

Although the meeting did not touch on the Centre's travel warning, Reepalu says that he was able to make clear his real position on Israel, and on anti-semitic hate crimes in his city.

The mayor says that he has publicly distanced himself from the comments, and apologised for them, but that they are still being repeated in the media.

But while Ilmar Reepalu tries to put the whole row over Israel behind him, the Simon Wiesenthal centre seems to be pressing forward against the mayor.

Speaking to Swedish Radio News Shimon Samuels agrees that they met various communities, but he draws very different conclusions - he says that the Jewish, Muslim and Roma communities are all suffering the effects of Reepalu's police failing to take seriously racist abuse and attacks.

And today the centre says, in an email to news agency TT, that the travel warning will not be revoked - the message is that if the status quo remains, then so does the travel warning.

What would it take for the Centre to remove their travel warning? Talking to Swedish Radio news Abraham Cooper says that the Malmö authorities simply have to take racist abuse more seriously.

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