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Speech by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at demonstration against anti-Semitism


Stockholm, 20 December 2017.


This speech was originally published under an incorrect headline – the headline has now been corrected.

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In June this year I travelled to Auschwitz with Livia Fränkel, who has just turned 90.
It was her first trip back. She wanted to close the circle, say goodbye to her parents.

We stood at the entrance to the concentration camp, side by side, and her memories returned. They were lined up, grouped. Livia and her sister, Hédi, were sent to the right.
Their mother, Frida, to the left. They never saw each other again. As we are standing there, Livia talks about the horror, about her fear. She was sixteen.

I recall her words when the Nordic Resistance Movement march with placards bearing photos of Jewish survivors and call them traitors. When firebombs are hurled at the synagogue in Gothenburg. When demonstrators in Malmö make anti-Semitic death threats. It is a disgrace that those who survived have to experience this again.
In this age. In our nation.

The Holocaust is a part of our history, but Jews are still being persecuted here and now.
Once again, fear is spreading – that familiar feeling when doubts assail. Do I dare wear a kippa or Star of David? Should we take out the Hanukkah menorah? It shouldn't be like this anywhere. It shouldn't be like this in Sweden.

Everyone should be able to feel proud of their origins, their religion, their identity.
Jewish culture is part of Swedish culture, Jewish history is our history and, in Sweden, everyone has the right to live in our society in security and freedom. We owe it to the people who survived. I owe it to Livia.

And those who try to legitimise violence and hatred to achieve their goals – whether they are Nazis, religious extremists or left-wing extremists – will be inexorably condemned.
We will never allow them to poison our society.

To this end, we are strengthening security around synagogues, schools and other premises. The police have received additional resources and been instructed that efforts to combat hate speech and incitement must be prioritised.

But this is not enough. In the long term, security is not built by guards but by values. It is built in a cohesive and trustful society, an open society that takes great pleasure in our individual similarities and differences.

This is why greater efforts are needed to combat intolerance, in schools and in society, and not least among immigrant groups from countries where anti-Semitism is strong.
We are reintroducing support to enable school pupils to make history and remembrance trips. In 2020 a new international conference on remembrance and education will be held in Sweden.

And we need more occasions like today, when we stand side by side, parties, religions and organisations. And show that what unites us is so much more important that what divides us. That light is stronger than darkness. Love so much greater than hate.

We will stand up for human dignity. We will do it together. It's in our hands!

Thank you.