Hillevi Larsson
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Social Democrat MP Hillevi Larsson at a 2009 Gaza solidarity demonstration. File photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT
Isaac Bachman, Israels ambassadör. Foto: Claudio Bresciani/TT.
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Isaac Bachman, Israel's ambassador to Sweden. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Palestine solidarity demo in Malmö sparks criticism

"I was told they chanted 'freedom, freedom - the holiest word'"
2:45 min

Israel's ambassador to Sweden has criticised a demonstration in which two MPs took part and in which some participants apparently celebrated the recent spate of knife attacks in Israel and called for a "third intifada".

A Palestinian cultural association organised the demonstration in central Malmö on Sunday. In a video clip that is doing the rounds on social media, some demonstrators are seen shouting slogans in Arabic. A speaker adressing the crowds gets interrupted by the chants about stabbing and shooting Israelis.

Writing about the incident on Facebook, ambassador Isaac Bachman said the video from the demonstration shows "very disturbing chants in the heart of Malmö". He wrote that there were "explicit calls in Arabic" to slaughter the Jews, stab soldiers and carry out terror attacks.

Two Swedish members of parliament attended and spoke at the demonstration: Hillevi Larsson of the Social Democrat Party and Daniel Sestrajcic of the Left Party.

On Tuesday, Larsson wrote on Twitter: "I condemn all violence - particularly violence against civilians. I also condemn slogans inciting violence!"

Larsson also told Swedish Radio in Malmö that the individuals who chanted the slogans were not part of the group that organised the demonstration and that because the slogans were in Arabic, which she does not speak, she did not realise until after the event what they meant.

Larsson said someone standing next to her had translated part of the chants for her. "I was told they chanted 'freedom, freedom - the holiest word,'" said Larsson.

On his part, the Left Party's Sestrajcic said he only attended the start of the demonstration and left before the chanting took place. "I think it seems awful and it's not something I, in any way, would stand for," he said.

Speaking to newspaper Sydsvenskan, Yahia Abuwatfa, chairman of the Palestinian Cultural Association in Malmö, said his organisation had insisted that the demonstration should be held in Swedish. Those who chanted in Arabic had disrupted the event and had also held a similar demonstration the day before, he said.

"The purpose of the demonstration was to help Palestine," Abuwatfa said of Sunday's event.

Radio Sweden has tried to reach Hillevi Larsson for a comment.

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