Swedish Jewish Politician’s House Burned in Suspected Hate Crime

The politician has been the target of anti-Semitic harassment recently in the form of death threats that were mailed to him and hate speech online

'We know how to identify neo-Nazi Jew-hatred, but we don't talk about Muslim anti-Semitism': Police stop neo-Nazi demonstrators during the Nordic Resistance Movement march in Gothenburg, Sweden. September 30, 2017
Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency/via REUTERS

The house of a Swedish politician who has been the target of anti-Semitic harassment was set on fire in what his community is calling a hate crime.

The incident occurred on Tuesday night in the southern city of Lund, the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities wrote in a statement. It did not name the person believed to have been targeted, describing him only as a lay politician with Jewish roots. The alleged victim was able to extinguish the flames before they spread to other homes.

No one was hurt, but the blaze resulted in extensive damage to the property.

Police have no suspects in custody. The victim had death threats mailed to him and has been the subject of hate speech online, according to the Jewish community.

This summer, the owner of another home targeted with arson has been, like the lawmaker, “active on Jewish issues” over the past few years, Jewish council president Aron Verstandig wrote. He said both homeowners wish to remain anonymous.

“There is strong suspicion that these attacks are targeted against these people because they are Jews,” Verstandig wrote. “The latest incident has the extra dimension of an attempt to intimidate a politician into silence.”

He called the arson “an attack on Swedish democracy.”

In December, several men, some of them Arab, participated in riots during which a firebomb was hurled at the synagogue of Gothenburg in southern Sweden. Three of the culprits who were tried for the attack said it was payback for the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In addition to Muslim extremist violence, which is common across Western Europe, Swedish Jews are exposed to violence and intimidation by far-right groups on a scale that is rare in that part of the world.