Jewish community centre closes after series of neo-Nazi threats


The Jewish Association (Judisk föreningen) in Umeå, northern Sweden, has closed its community centre in the city following a series of threats and abuse from neo-Nazis.

The association has received threatening emails and phone calls, a member’s car has been vandalised and its building has been defaced with swastikas and spray-painted threats such as “we know where you live”.

According to Umeå Jewish Association spokesperson Carinne Sjöberg, the abuse and threats have been a regular irritant since the centre opened in 2010, but a weekend attack on an elderly member’s car was the last straw.

“They basically destroyed his car and then started hurling things at his window,” Ms Sjöberg told the JC.

“We cannot go on like this any more. Too many things have happened lately. Our children shouldn’t live in a world where they have to be ashamed for what they are, but it’s not possible to operate if people are scared. My mother and father are (Holocaust) survivors, so I feel like I’m in my parents’ shoes in the 1930s. This is so wrong.”

Ms Sjöberg lays the blame for the centre’s closure squarely on the local council. “They’ve known about this problem for a long time. They know we need a safer place to meet in the centre of town. But they haven’t done anything about it.”

Ms Sjöberg, however, absolves the Umeå police from any blame. “They have really done their best. They’re working on catching these people. They know the neo-Nazi group involved in the abuse and they will catch them.”

The decision to close the premises and end the association’s activities was made at a meeting on Sunday.

Umeå, a city of 120,000 residents, is home to some 50 Jews, according to a Haaretz profile of the Jewish centre from 2016. Ms Sjöberg told the Israeli paper that she founded the organisation several years ago to give the city’s Jews a home and educate against racism and antisemitism.

Two years ago, residents of Umeåheld a march to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the campaign of violence that the Nazis unleashed in 1938 against German and Austrian Jews, but excluded the town’s Jewish community from participating in the event, according to the BBC.

The event had turned into an anti-racism rally and some feared clashes with pro-Palestinian demonstrators, according to reports in the local media.

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