Measures to combat antisemitism and increase security

Updated

The Government has adopted a number of measures to combat antisemitism and increase security that have been implemented and are ongoing. These measures are being carried out both by the Government and by government agencies on behalf of the Government.

Of key importance to these efforts is the involvement of the Jewish national minority in the issues that concern them, for example through regular consultation within the context of Sweden’s minorities policy and in the implementation of the national plan to combat racism, similar forms of hostility and hate crime. Dialogue with Jewish organisations is also maintained on specific issues such as security-enhancing measures, interreligious cooperation and the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.

Several of the measures are being carried out within the context of the national plan against racism, similar forms of hostility and hate crime, which the Government adopted in 2016. The plan represents a concerted approach to these efforts and comprises strategies and measures to prevent and combat antisemitism and other forms of racism through improved coordination and monitoring, more education and research, increased support to and deepened dialogue with civil society, strengthened preventive measures online and a more active judicial system.

Below are a few examples of measures:

Holocaust remembrance

  • In April 2020, an Inquiry Chair presented a proposal on how to establish a museum to preserve and perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust (SOU 2020:21). One starting point is that stories of Holocaust survivors with a connection to Sweden should be at the core of the activities. The report has been circulated for comment. In March 2021, the Government instructed the National Historical Museums (a government agency) to submit proposals for the establishment of a Holocaust museum in Sweden under the agency’s administration. The findings were delivered on 18 June 2021.
  • The Swedish Research Council will survey Swedish research on the Holocaust and antisemitism with the aim of long-term advancement of this field of research. Based on this survey, the Swedish Research Council will submit recommendations to the Government concerning continued measures to  strengthen the research field in Sweden.
  • The Government has allocated funds to support remembrance journeys trips to Holocaust memorial sites in 2018–2022.
  • On 13 October 2021, Sweden will host the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism. The Forum will focus on Holocaust remembrance, Holocaust education, antisemitism in social media, and measures against antisemitism, antigypsyism and other forms of racism. Heads of states and governments from approximately 50 countries, Jewish organisations and experts, researchers and other civil society representatives have been invited to the Forum.

Measures for education and knowledge-enhancing initiatives

  • The government agency Living History Forum is conducting an extensive education campaign on different forms of racism – both historical and present-day – in which antisemitism is included. The Forum produces information material and provides training for school staff and other public sector employees at e.g. the Swedish Police Authority, the Swedish Public Employment Service, the Swedish Social Insurance Agency and social services.
  • The Living History Forum has presented a study (June 2021) that investigates the prevalence and spread of antisemitic attitudes and sentiment among the Swedish population, and compares the results with a similar study from 2005. The study indicates that support among the population for both traditional and Holocaust-related antisemitic sentiment, as well as those related to Israel, has decreased. At the same time, 5 per cent of the population have strong antisemitic attitudes (6 per cent 2005). The report shows how attitudes have developed among the population – not the existence of threats and hate – and observes that there is a risk that hate crime may rise despite general improvement in attitudes.
  • The Swedish Media Council works to empower children and young people as aware media users through media literacy. The Council has also implemented the ‘No Hate Speech Movement’ campaign and has now been instructed to develop methods to combat racism, similar forms of hostility and hate crime on the internet among children and young people.
  • In connection with the Malmö International Forum for Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, the Government is conducting a national initiative to increase knowledge in schools and society. The initiative consists of the following four assignments:
    • The Living History Forum is implementing a national campaign with enhanced educational initiatives on the Holocaust, antisemitism, antigypsyism and other forms of racism. In line with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definitions of  antisemitism and antigypsyism, the Forum’s educational initiatives aim to both increase knowledge about antisemitism historically and create understanding of how antisemitism manifests itself today. These efforts will especially target audiences that the Forum’s activities rarely reach. Various parts of the school and liberal adult education systems will be the focus of the initiatives. Civic orientation for newly arrived immigrants will also be included.
    • The government agency National Historical Museums is developing a version in Swedish of the Dimensions in Testimony installation (developed by the Shoah Foundation) that allows visitors to converse with Holocaust survivors via pre-recorded answers to questions, made possible by artificial intelligence technology.
    • The University of Gothenburg (Segerstedt Institute) is preparing a research review and a research seminar on education in the school system that can combat antisemitism and other forms of racism.
    • The Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) is producing a report on antisemitism in social media and other digital environments. In conjunction with this report, FOI has published a memorandum on antisemitic stereotypes in digital media.
  • The Ombudsman for Children in Sweden has the task of developing and compiling knowledge about children’s and young people’s vulnerability to various forms of racism including antisemitism.

Support to civil society

  • The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society distributes annual funding in accordance with the Ordinance on government grants to activities combating racism and similar forms of intolerance. In recent years, the Agency has received more funding to increase the allocation of government grants to projects specifically aimed at combating intolerance such as antisemitism.

Measures in the judicial system

  • The Swedish Police Authority has raised its level of ambition with respect to hate crime and other crimes that threaten democracy. There is a national contact point for these crimes, along with democracy and anti-hate crime groups in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. The Swedish Police Authority continuously assesses the threats to religious buildings and communities. A decision on relevant safety precautions follows in each individual case.
  • The Swedish Police Authority has been instructed to continue taking measures against racism, hate crime and other crimes that threaten democracy. Within the framework of these measures, the Authority has produced and disseminated information, e.g. through various educational materials. In implementing the measures, the Swedish Police Authority has worked collaboratively with relevant actors, both government agencies and civil society organisations.
  • The Swedish Prosecution Authority has continued its work to develop expertise among hate crime prosecutors and to enhance consistency in their application of the law, e.g. through training and development of policy documents and methodology support in this area.
  • The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) was tasked by the Government with conducting an in-depth study of antisemitic hate crime in Sweden (2019). According to the study, antisemitism can be found in broad sections of the population, and far from everyone who subjects others to antisemitism belong to an organised group.

Measures against violent extremism

  • In 2018, the Government established the Swedish Center for Preventing Violent Extremism (CVE) under the auspices of Brå. The Center’s mandate is to provide needs-based support to professionals at local level, serve as a knowledge hub and contribute to creating greater effectiveness and coordination in preventive measures.
  • Since 2016, the Swedish Defence Research Agency has been tasked with analysing violent extremist propaganda in digital environments. The analyses conducted have increased knowledge of the content of the antisemitic propaganda spread by radical nationalistic and extreme right-wing environments.
  • An all-party committee has proposed the introduction of new criminal legislation prohibiting racist organisations. The proposal includes the introduction of two new offences in the Swedish Criminal Code: organised racism and support to organised racism. The committee also proposes a special scale of penalties for severe cases of organised racism. The committee proposes a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment for organised racism and support to organised racism. Under the proposal, the penalty for a gross offence would be imprisonment for a minimum of six months and at most four years. The committee proposes that the legislation enter into force on 1 July 2022. The report has been circulated for comment.
  • Since 2018, appropriations to security-enhancing measures for civil society and schools have been increased.

International cooperation

  • Sweden is an active member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which Sweden initiated in 2000. The Living History Forum represents Sweden in the IHRA under the leadership of the Ambassador for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Sweden will hold the chair of the IHRA from March 2022 to March 2023.
  • In January 2020, the Government made it clear that Sweden supports the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism, including its list of examples, adopted by the IHRA.
  • The Government has appointed a special envoy for interreligious and intercultural dialogue, including for international efforts to combat antisemitism and Islamophobia and the protection of religious minorities, based at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The special envoy works to enhance coordination of intergovernmental efforts and strengthen Sweden’s cooperation with key international stakeholders and international Jewish organisations.
  • Within the framework of EU cooperation, Sweden and Finland are carrying out a project on right-wing extremism. One objective of this project is to develop a definition of the violent right-wing extremist environment, with the purpose to facilitate the development of preventive measures.
  • Sweden actively participates in the work of the European Commission Working Group to implement the Council Declaration on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe. The Working Group was established in 2018 and comprises representatives from Member States, national and international Jewish organisations and other relevant organisations.