Fear of hate crime sparks film pullout

By Nathalie Rothschild, July 21, 2011
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A Hollywood production company has cancelled plans to film a movie in Sweden because of a recent spike in antisemitic hate crimes.

Earlier this year, the company expressed interest in shooting in Malmö and other places in southern Sweden for the film adaptation of a Jewish-themed bestseller. But after learning of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's recent travel advisory warning Jewish visitors to Malmö to take extreme precautions, it backtracked.

In January, the film company met Mikael Svensson of the Öresund Film Commission, a Swedish-Danish association that assists foreign companies looking to film in the Öresund region.

But one month after the meeting in Los Angeles, Mr Svensson received an email from the Hollywood company explaining that southern Sweden would not be an appropriate place to record a Jewish-themed film.

A travel advisory convinced firm to backtrack

Mr Svensson, who has refused to reveal the name of the Hollywood company or the title of the bestseller, told Swedish media that this is the first time a film company has reacted to the Wiesenthal Centre's warning.

The company representative said in the email: "Only problem I see with this project… is that this is a Jewish story and that the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in the USA called the south of Sweden a VERY unsafe place for the Jewish community due to the large and hostile community of Muslims."

The Wiesenthal Centre has been critical of Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu's meek response to a surge in antisemitic crimes, ranging from verbal threats to desecration of a cemetery and arson at a shul. Most attacks are believed to have been committed by Muslims, who make up a fifth of Malmö's population of 300,000.

However, new Swedish crime statistics show that the number of reported antisemitic crimes are on the decline, while the number of reported Islamophobic hate crimes have increased.

    Last updated: 2:46pm, July 21 2011