There were some reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice; however, prominent societal leaders took positive steps to promote religious freedom, and individuals were generally tolerant of diverse religious practices. Law enforcement authorities maintained statistics on hate crimes. Some Muslims expressed anti-Semitic views.
The Jewish communities in Stockholm and Malmo reported that many of the anti-Semitic hate crimes were perpetrated by two groups: youth of Middle Eastern origin and white supremacy groups. The National Council for Crime Prevention (NCCP) reported that most anti-Islamic hate crimes were harassment and discrimination in the labor market against veiled women.
Visiting Holocaust sites such as Auschwitz was a common educational tool in the Swedish school system. Students, regardless of their religious background, participated in these field trips. The Living History Forum estimated that 10 percent of all Swedish primary and secondary school students visit a Holocaust site as part of their education.
According to the Jewish community in Malmo, Jews have left the city due mainly to cultural and economic reasons, but possibly also anti-Semitism. They usually search for more active Jewish communities in Stockholm and abroad, including Israel.
The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency cooperated with religious communities on a national level to promote dialogue and to prevent conflicts leading to anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic incidents.
In June the NCCP presented its annual study on hate crimes in 2010, including anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic, and other religion-related hate crimes. Nationwide, there was a decrease in anti-Semitic hate crimes, but an increase of 40 percent in anti-Islamic hate crimes. In 2010 there were 552 reports of hate crimes involving religion, of which 161 were anti-Semitic crimes (29 percent of religion-related hate crimes), down from 250 in 2009, and 272 were anti-Islamic crimes (49 percent of religion-related hate crimes), up from 159 in 2009. Of the hate crimes involving religion in 2010, 20 percent reportedly had a white supremacist motive, an increase of five percent from 2009. The police hate crime task force believed that incidents in the Middle East conflict, police resources, or fluctuations in the willingness to report could all be factors that influenced the statistical outcome.
The NCCP’s report stated that crimes against persons and damage of property/graffiti were the most common offenses related to religion. The most frequent anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim crimes were crimes against persons, with 98 and 148 reported incidents in 2010, respectively; the second-most common crimes were agitation against an ethnic group, 34 and 80, respectively. According to the report, 19 percent of anti-Semitic crimes were ideologically motivated. Religious hate crimes more frequently occurred in religious locations or at an individual’s home. The victim rarely knew the perpetrator, and the majority of both suspects and victims were men. By March 2011, police had investigated 50 percent of the hate crimes involving religion reported during 2009. A small part of these continued to be under investigation, while police dropped 44 percent of them for lack of evidence or failure to meet the standards of a hate crime. The reason given for the high figure of unresolved crimes is that religious hate crimes often consisted of damage to property, e.g., graffiti, where there seldom were any leads for police to follow.
Although nationwide hate crime statistics for the year were not available, police from Skane, the region in southern Sweden where much of the anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic incidents occurred, reported an increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes for the year and a decrease of anti-Islamic hate crimes. Malmo police registered 67 anti-Semitic hate crimes for the year. The equivalent figures for 2010 were 34, and for 2009, 80. Anti-Islamic incidents decreased from 40 crimes in 2010 to 34 in 2011. The figure for 2009 was seven. Malmo police believed the fluctuations could be related to more police resources allocated to work on hate crimes, a rising tendency to report these types of crimes to the police, or an overall rise in hate crimes with anti-Semitic connections during the year. Anti-Semitic incidents included threats, verbal abuse, vandalism, graffiti, and harassment. Anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic statements in blogs and Internet fora also occurred. These incidents were often associated with events in and actions of Israel, and Swedish Jews were at times blamed for policies of the Israeli government. The government has taken the increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the southern part of the country very seriously.
The NCCP reported it did not see a rising trend in anti-Semitic or anti-Islamic hate crimes, but rather that these types of crimes increased in some years and decreased in other years without representing a broader trend in either direction. Swedish academic experts also claimed that reports of increased anti-Semitism in Malmo were not connected to religion but to ethnic conflicts and political tensions that stemmed from the Middle East conflict and xenophobic youths that have targeted Jewish symbols.
In August a man from Smaland was fined for making Nazi salutes and shouting “Heil Hitler.” The 37-year-old man, who was under the influence of alcohol, admitted he made the gestures. He was found guilty of a hate crime and fined SEK 2,400 ($340).
In July a 16-year-old boy from Vastra Frolunda in southwest Sweden was found guilty of making Nazi gestures in a McDonald’s restaurant in early April. He admitted to the hate crime charges and was sentenced to pay a fine.
In April two Muslim men won a discrimination case against Western Union. The financial service company had refused to assist the two after confusing their Muslim names with names on international sanctions lists. The District Court sentenced Western Union for discrimination and the men received 10,000 SEK ($1,400) and 5,000 SEK ($700) in compensation.
In April a 17-year-old Muslim girl was refused an internship at a hair salon in Malmo because she was wearing a veil. The owner claimed the girl would have frightened off her customers. The owner was charged with discrimination and sentenced to a fine of 27,500 SEK ($4,100).
In December 2010 the Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a travel warning for Jews traveling in southern Sweden based on its assessment that Jews in Malmo were “subject to anti-Semitic taunts and harassment.” It also cited “the outrageous remarks of Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reepalu, who blamed the Jewish community for failing to denounce Israel.” The Jewish congregations in Stockholm and Malmo reported they did not agree with the travel warning. In March the Simon Wiesenthal Center met with the local government and police in Malmo to discuss the situation but there was no significant result by year’s end.
In July 2010 a small early morning explosion blackened the entrance to a synagogue in Malmo and broke three windows. According to media reports, a note with a bomb threat had been put on the synagogue door the day before. However, in 2011 the police investigation concluded that the explosion was not connected to the bomb threat reported by the media. The police bomb technicians found traces of firework-wrappers and classified the case as damage of property; no arrests were made due to lack of evidence.
In July 2010, according to media reports, a rabbi was walking home from Stockholm’s central train station when four young men of apparent Middle Eastern descent yelled “you will die Israeli, killer--you will be beaten.” The four men ran towards the rabbi, who escaped by jumping into a nearby taxi. Police made no arrests due to lack of evidence and closed the case during the year.