Suspected Stabber of Jewish Woman in Sweden Arrested in Denmark

The woman, a communal leader in her 60s, is now in stable condition ■ Unattributed reports say crime 'was an act of insanity' rather than anti-Semitism

FILE PHOTO: A police vehicle is seen in Aalborg, Denmark, April 25, 2019.
\ RITZAU SCANPIX/ REUTERS

Police in Denmark arrested a man suspected of stabbing a Jewish communal leader in Sweden.

The arrest Wednesday followed the issuing of a warrant for the suspect’s arrest for attempted murder on Tuesday in Helsingborg in southern Sweden, the Helsinborgs Dagblad reported.

The victim, a woman in her 60s, sustained critical injuries and is in stable condition in hospital. The reports about the arrest did not offer additional information on the suspect.

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The daily on Tuesday reported unattributed information that the incident “seems to be an act of insanity where the woman was randomly targeted.” But the same report also said that he is wanted for attempted murder – suggesting the assumption of criminal responsibility.

Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, meanwhile linked the assault to anti-Semitism when he wrote in a statement that it “reminds us that we cannot rely on fading memories of the Holocaust to keep today’s Jewish communities safe.”

Southern Sweden has some of the country’s highest level of violent crime. It also has a disproportionate anti-Semitism problem, in which the region’s 1,200 Jews encounter dozens of hate crimes annually – figures that rival the anti-Jewish hate crime statistics recorded in Stockholm, where most of Sweden’s approximately 20,000 Jews live.

Swedish Jews have reported intimidation and violence by far-right nationalists. But in the country’s south, many of the violent incidents – including the hurling of firebombs at the Gothenburg synagogue in 2017 – have come from immigrants from Arab or Muslim countries.

The Helsingborg Jewish community, a tight-knit group of fewer than 100 that increasingly over the past two years has operated independently from Malmo – has experienced some of that hostility.

Last week, a Helsingborg imam, Samir El Rifai, was indicted in local court for calling Jews “offspring of apes and pigs” during a July 17 sermon at an anti-Israel protest in the city’s Gustav Adolf square. The trial, which has been reported on in the national media, was the result of a complaint filed by the former leader of the Jewish community of Helsingborg.

In 2009, during Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, the Helsingborg synagogue was the target of an arson attack. Police did not catch the perpetrators.