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In Malmo, record number of anti-Semitic attacks reported

(JTA) — The Swedish city of Malmo is reporting a record increase in documented anti-Semitic attacks.

Swedish police recorded 60 hate crimes against Jews in the city in 2012, up from an average of 22 in 2010 and 2011, the Sydsvenskan local daily reported. During the first six months of 2013, police reported 35 such attacks in Malmo, putting the city on a pace to break last year’s record.

The increase may reflect greater willingness by victims to report the crimes rather than a steep increase in crimes, said Fred Kahn, chairman of the board of the Malmo Jewish community. Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city, has several hundred Jewish residents.

“There was some increase in hate crimes, and to combat it the Jewish community is reporting more,” Kahn told JTA. “I think we are reporting a lot more and we are also feeling more confident.”

[RELATED: In Scandinavia, kipah becomes a symbol of defiance for Malmo’s Jews - Sept. 2012]

About 30 percent of Malmo’s 300,000 residents belong to families of immigrants from Muslim countries, according to city statistics. Radical members of that population are responsible for most of the attacks against Jews, the Jewish community has said.

Malmo’s former mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, who left his post in February after 28 years in office, had blamed the rise in anti-Semitism on Jews and advised them to distance themselves from Israel to remain safe.

Last year, Hannah Rosenthal, at the time the Obama administration’s special envoy for combating anti-Semitism, said Reepalu’s words were a prime example of “new anti-Semitism” wherein anti-Israel sentiment serves as a guise for hatred of Jews.

Since Reepalu left, Kahn said, “authorities are more alert to the needs of the Jewish community.”

In neighboring Finland, the Simon Wiesenthal Center asked President Sauli Vainamo Niinisto to intervene to stop the publication of anti-Semitic texts and cartoons in Magneettimedia, a freely-distributed paper published by Juha Karkkainen, owner of a large chain of department stores.

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