Rabbi Moshe David Hacohen and Imam Salahuddin Barakat in Malmo.
(photo credit: AMANAH: THE JEWISH – MUSLIM FAITH AND TRUST PROJECT - COURTESY)
The Malmö Muslim Network, an organization representing the majority of Muslim organizations in the Swedish city of Malmo, issued a statement strongly condemning the attack against the secretary of the Jewish community of the neighboring city of Helsingborg on Wednesday.
“In the name of God, full of grace and mercy. Sweden is a country that has always had open doors for people in need of aid and where there are warmth and safety. Malmö Muslim Network (MMN) is therefore worried about a development where more and more people in our country can no more feel that warmth and safety,” read the statement.
“We have seen increased attacks on religious premises and persons with an obvious religious identity. The Jewish minority has been especially exposed and as late as yesterday the secretary of the Jewish community of Helsingborg was attacked and stabbed,” it continued.
At present, local police said that it was not treating the episode as a hate crime, even though the victim and the attacker, who has been identified and arrested, did not know each other.
The victim, a woman in her sixties, who stabbed multiple times and suffered severe injuries. She is currently in stable conditions.
In the statement, the Malmö Muslim Network notes that “whatever the motive of the crime, we, Muslims, know the insecurity such an attack can lead to for the entire Jewish community of Helsingborg and the whole city’s Jewish population.”
“Therefore, the Malmö Muslim Network wants to express its support and we strongly condemn the attack. We pray for a quick recovery of the victim and hope that the guilty will be found rapidly and brought to justice.”
“I believe that it is important to see Muslim leaders speaking up for the Jews and express their concern over the rise of antisemitism,” Rabbi Moshe David Hacohen told The Jerusalem Post. “We should not take it for granted.”
Hacohen, an Israeli, moved to Malmo two years ago to serve as a rabbi for the local Jewish community and to work on fostering the dialogue with the Muslim population, that make up about a third of the city’s residents.
Malmo is considered one of the most problematic cities in Europe for the lack of integration. About 1200 Jews live in Malmo, an about 100 in Helsingborg.
In 2017, Hacohen founded Amanah: The Jewish – Muslim Faith and Trust Project, with local Imam Salahuddin Barakat.
The non-profit promotes regular meetings in schools and a number of events for the Jewish and Muslim communities.
It also organizes Beit Midrash/Madrassah joint study sessions - the terms refer to the traditional Hebrew and Arabic words for study hall - where men and women from both faiths delve in texts and issues that are important to both traditions; recently, the sessions have covered the subjects of fatherhood and death and meaning of life.
The statement condemning the stabbing “is another important step of the trust building between the Jewish and Muslim communities,” Rabbi Hacohen noted.
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