In challenging Malmo, Muslims and Jews commemorate Kristallnacht together

"We Muslims were not there in Germany on 1938 on this devastating night, but today we are here, in one country, and we stand up against any attack on any Jew," Imam Salahuddin Barakat said.

Malmo's synagogue lit up for the 81st anniversary of the Kristallnacht on November 9, 2019. (photo credit: JEWISH COMMUNITY OF MALMÖ)
Malmo's synagogue lit up for the 81st anniversary of the Kristallnacht on November 9, 2019.
(photo credit: JEWISH COMMUNITY OF MALMÖ)
An unprecedented joint Jewish-Muslim commemoration was held to mark the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht in the Swedish city of Malmo.
On the night between November 8 and 9 in 1938, tens of thousands of synagogues, study halls, Jewish businesses and homes all over Germany were destroyed or damaged and hundreds of Jews were killed. To remember the pogrom, around 200 people braved the cold weather on Saturday night to gather in front of Malmo's synagogue, lit up for the occasion under the slogan "Let the light of Hope not be extinguished in Malmo."
"We Muslims were not there in Germany on 1938 on this devastating night, but today we are here, in one country, and we stand up against any attack on any Jew and we see every attack against them as if it were against us and vice versa, we are one," Imam Salahuddin Barakat said, speaking on behalf of the Malmö Muslim Network, an organization representing the majority of Muslim organizations in the city.
Malmo, where about a third of the 300,000 residents is Muslim, is considered one of the most problematic cities in Europe for the lack of integration. About 1,200 Jews live in the city.
In 2017, Barakat and Rabbi David Hacohen founded Amanah: The Jewish – Muslim Faith and Trust Project. Since then, the non-profit has been promoting regular meetings in schools and several events for both communities, including a Beit Midrash/Madrassah joint study sessions - the terms refer to the traditional Hebrew and Arabic words for study hall.
"We are in a situation where the Jewish community is dwindling, it's not simple," HaCohen commented ahead of the ceremony. But the imam's attendance, which HaCohen said exposed Barakat to "criticism" from some of his own congregants, "is an important sign we're on the path to better coexistence."
The mayor of Malmo Katrin Jammeh Stjernfeldt also attended the event and expressed her support to the Jewish community in the light of the frequency of antisemitic threats and episodes, highlighting the importance of a National Conference on antisemitism that will take place in the city in 2020.
JTA contributed to this report.