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Journalist Documents Anti-Semitism In A Swedish City


Over the past few years, the Swedish city of Malmo has earned a reputation for anti-Semitism. Members of Malmo's small Jewish population say that walking in some of the city's Muslim neighborhoods wearing a skull cap, a kepah, is to risk verbal abuse and possibly worse. Well, that risk has now been documented by Swedish television journalist Petter Ljunggren. Ljunggren wore a cap and also a Jewish star pendant in Malmo while secretly filming. One scene captures him fleeing a group of increasingly agitated young men as eggs are thrown at him from nearby windows. Later, a young man from that neighborhood describes how on that night, he'd gotten a text telling him to egg the Jews.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Speaking Swedish).

SIEGEL: Well, Petter Ljunggren joins us from Stockholm. Welcome to the program.


SIEGEL: And describe what it was like to walk, for you, disguised as an observant Jew through those streets of Malmo.

LJUNGGREN: I think it can best be described as a permanent tension. We met mixed reactions really, which is important to point out. We had very many meetings with friendly Middle Eastern persons as well, some very warm meetings. But there was a number of occasions with hostility. And those occasions, they made the whole experience being very tensed, and, you know, you are on your guard all the time. It was very good for me to experience that because I realize how some Jews in Malmo feel every day.

SIEGEL: Now, this is not the old problem of anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi skinheads. This is anti-Israel sentiment that is turned into outright anti-Semitism. Do I have that right? And how common would you say that is?

LJUNGGREN: It's - you are right. And it's common enough to be a big problem. It's not all Muslims or all Middle Eastern men in Malmo - not at all. But there are so many that it's a problem. And it's not only on an individual basis either. There are groups. And it's an acceptance of anti-Semitism. It's an acceptance of hatred of Jews in some environments. And that's a big problem.

SIEGEL: This report of yours was on the program "Mission: Investigate" a few nights ago. How would you describe the reaction in Sweden to your film?

LJUNGGREN: Oh, the reactions were overwhelming really. I didn't realize that I would get so many reactions. It was not only in the papers and in the media but also debates, you know, in the social medias - a lot of comments. And you could see it's a very sensitive subject. And it's a subject engaging people. And I must tell you a wonderful reactions. The representatives of the Muslim population in Malmo actually went to the rabbi, who is harassed. They went to him with flowers and a letter where it said, Malmo wouldn't be whole without you. So, I mean, that's a very positive reaction of course to my documentary

SIEGEL: Well, Petter Ljunggren, thank you very much for talking with us about your film.

LJUNGGREN: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Petter Ljunggren is a reporter at "Mission: Investigate," a program on Swedish television. Later this week, he'll air a documentary on anti-Muslim sentiment in Sweden. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.