NEW YORK – As members of the far-right Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) marched in cities across Sweden on May 1, World Jewish Congress CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer has called on the Swedish government to ban the neo-Nazi group and to engage in a series of measures to increase protection for the Jewish community.
In a letter to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Singer noted that the terrifying marches by uniformed members of the NMR in the cities of Kungälv and Ludvika on Wednesday took place on Yom Hashoah, a day of solemn remembrance and contemplation honoring the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. These were just the latest demonstrations by the movement, which routinely intimidates and threatens Jews and ethnic minorities in the country.
“As we approach the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we are forcefully reminded that the same ideology of hatred and violent extremism that caused the genocide of European Jewry presents a clear and present danger to Swedish society today. There must be zero tolerance for such manifestations of evil, and it is imperative that your government does its utmost to curtail this worrying development, by way of both firm denouncement as well as unambiguous action,” Singer wrote.
“It is unacceptable that such violent extremists limit the freedom and safety of regular citizens, abusing the essential rights and freedoms of Swedish society in order to intimidate and express an unbridled hatred for Jews and other minorities. The well-documented fact that the NMR marches use racist ideology, applied in a military manner with uniforms and a forceful demeanor to instil fear in others, justifies a legal prohibition of this violent movement. A ban on NMR, as is currently being urged in the courts in Finland, would prevent it from entering the political arena and would serve as a powerful demonstration that there is no place in Swedish society for this type of organized and violent hatred,” he wrote.
Singer also appealed to Prime Minister Löfven to take concrete steps to protect the community, including further alleviating the financial burden of security – which currently comprises approximately one-quarter of the Jewish community membership fees.
The WJC CEO also underscored the crucial nature of education in combating antisemitism and commended the government for increasing government funds for educational trips to Holocaust sites.
"We see it as a matter of paramount importance to engage in a broad dialogue on these important topics and look forward to the 2020 international conference in Stockholm, as a follow-up to the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust in 2000 that led to the creation of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. As always, WJC stands as a ready and willing partner for this conference, together with the local Jewish communities, as well as in your mission to combat antisemitism, xenophobia, and other undemocratic forces,” Singer wrote.