Björn Söder SD. Foto: SR
Björn Söder. Photo: SR

Sweden Democrat on anti-semitism list

A statement made by Sweden Democrat Björn Söder was listed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center as number six on the top ten worst anti-semitic incidents in 2014.

In an interview in Dagens Nyheter newspaper, Söder had said he believed that most of the people "with Jewish origins who have become Swedes have left behind their Jewish identity. But if they don't, it doesn't have to be a problem. One must differentiate between citizenship and nationhood."

Björn Söder was newly made the second deputy speaker of Parliament, and is is the secretary of the Sweden Democrat Party.

The party is seen as xenophobic by many in Sweden and shunned by other parties for its historical links to the white power movement.

The Wiesenthal Center, a human rights organization confronting anti-semitism, hate and terrorism against Jews and headquartered in Los Angeles, quoted Lena Posner Körösi, of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden. She told The Guardian that Söder's statements were "exactly like in 1930s Germany".

Söder told news agency TT that he was quoted out of context and that Jews are not included in the "assimilation requirements" his party wants for immigrants.

Körösi dismisses his defense, telling Dagens Nyheter that the problem is Söder and his party are taking the liberty of making themselves spokespeople on identity - defining who should have the right to call themselves Swedish.

The journalist who wrote the article, Niklas Orrenius, has previously said no quote has been taken out of context, as what was published was a transcript of the interview. In the interview, Söder is quoted extensively, much more than politicians normally are, Orrenius said, adding that this was precisely to allow Söder to explain how he saw the issues in his own words. 

The Wiesenthal Center has previously accused city officials in the southern city of Malmö of failing to protect Jewish citizens, writing that "leading political figures have often justified anti-Jewish sentiment because of the Israel-Palestinian conflict."

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