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Dozens arrested after Sweden’s Yom Kippur Neo-Nazi march turns violent

More than thirty people were arrested after clashes broke out between anti-fascist demonstrators and hundreds of members of the Neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) this weekend.

Six hundred members of the far-right movement marched through the Swedish city of Gothenburg on Saturday as local Jews gathered in fasting and prayer for the Yom Kippur holiday.

NMR members fought with police law enforcement and protesters and at least two people were injured.

"Stones, bottles and sticks were also thrown at us,” a police spokesman told Deutsche Welle, which reported that 20 people, primarily Danes and Germans, were arrested prior to the march.

“It’s the day of the year when many Jews who normally don’t go to the synagogue will gather there,” Aron Verständig, chairman of The Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, and Allan Stutzinky, chairman of the Jewish Community in Gothenburg, wrote in an op-ed prior to the march. "Aside from out of fear for our own security, it evokes uncomfortable associations for us Jews. During the Holocaust it wasn’t unusual for the German Nazis to conduct their horrendous atrocities on the most important days of the Jewish calendar...Let them stay in the periphery, where they belong.”

After taking legal action, a Swedish court ordered the route changed, creating distance between the Neo-Nazis and the synagogue-goers.

The World Jewish Congress also protested the planned route vigorously, bringing the issue up with senior Swedish officials.

Meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven during the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder stated that holding a Nazi march in Gothenburg on Yom Kippur in front of the city's synagogue was utterly unacceptable.

The WJC then sent a formal letter of protest to the Swedish Minister for Justice and Home Affairs Morgan Johansson, stating that “during the Holocaust, the Nazis routinely scheduled major deportations of Jews to concentration and death camps on Jewish holidays, including on Yom Kippur. It is abhorrent that this practice should be emulated today, to the detriment of the Jews of Gothenburg."

The WJC welcomed the subsequent court decision to move the march.

 

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