Jewish and Muslim faiths work together to fight anti-Semitic hate in Sweden
MALMÖ, Sweden (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - As many people sought a new home in Sweden during the refugee crisis, leaders of the Jewish community and Muslim faith are fighting back against hate.
Built in 1903, Fredrik Sieradzki, spokesperson for the Jewish community said it remains the only synagogue in Malmö, Sweden.
Taking a closer look, one can see the historic building is equipped with shatterproof windows, a sturdy fence, steel barrier bars and security cameras.
In some respects, it looks more like a fortress as opposed to a house of worship.
"To be Jewish in Malmö is both fun, interesting, engaging... and sometimes frightening," said Sieradzki.
The spokesman says the level of security is needed because over the years, Jews have been targeted here.
"We're a small but very active community, but also there are of course problems here in Malmö in terms of anti-Semitism."
"I mean people will shout 'F****** Jews.' and uh 'support Hitler' and things like this," journalist Niklas Orrenius, who documents such events in Sweden, told Inside Your World.
His theory for the increase: "I've covered a lot of stories about anti-Semitism in Malmö. Because many of the refugees, and immigrants from the Arab countries come from cultures that are, um where anti-Semitism is basically mainstream."
With more than a quarter million refugees in the past few years applying for asylum in Sweden - most hailing from Middle Eastern countries - Sieradzki said some have brought with them anger and hatred.
"In terms of people who are coming in now, of course that's a challenge, because you don't check out your preconceived ideas, your prejudices just because you check into a new country, I mean you bring them with you."
So the Jewish community is working with Muslim church leaders to bring the two groups together to promote peace and understanding.
“We are always working together with the Jewish community here in Malmo, to fight anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism," said Imam Roland Vishkurti.
“We call it faith and tolerance, and we meet up every Monday.”
The harsh reality however, is that some believe tensions over the years have contributed to the shrinking Jewish community in Malmö.
In the 1960's, the synagogue had 3,500 members. Sieradzki said their numbers are now around 450.
While some decline include member deaths, he knows families have moved to Stockholm where the community seems to be growing, while others left for Israel.
When asked how he sees the future of Judaism in his city, the spokesperson said it's hard to tell.
"It's very hard to tell something especially about the future. I would say there's a possibility that the community could die out."