Scandinavian countries acknowledge rise in anti-Semitism, as Sweden decides to arm police guarding Jewish institutions with automatic weapons and Denmark unveils its revised anti-terror plan.
Swedish police will provide the personnel tasked with guarding Jewish institution with automatic weapons, Kevlar vests and protective helmets, as the security risk associated with the job have risen palpably in recent times.
“This is in line with a previous decision that security equipment of police officers stationed at Jewish activity centers should be strengthened,” Jessica Krasser Fremnell, press officer at the Swedish Police’s operative department, was quoted as saying by The Local, a Swedish English-language news website.
The measure comes one week after an Islamic gunman killed two people and injured several others in two separate attacks last week in neighboring Denmark.
The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center on Monday said it feared the recent attacks against Jews in Copenhagen and Paris could be the start of a “pan-European epidemic” as it called for a Europe-wide conference against anti-Semitism.
The prominent Jewish rights group said the shootings in Copenhagen on Saturday followed the same pattern as the Islamist attacks in Paris last month, and were directed at “freedom of expression activists, police and Jewish institutions.”
Denmark unveils anti-terror plan
In light of the two attacks in Copenhagen, the Danish government on Thursday unveiled a 130-million-euro ($150-million) plan to combat terror at home and abroad.
The plan, mooted before the weekend shootings, will enable the intelligence services to better monitor Danes travelling abroad to fight with the Islamist State group, while also targeting the radicalization of prisoners in jails.
“We want to strengthen our ability to gather and analyse (information) about terror planning abroad,” Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told a briefing.
“We want to ensure that the intelligence service is able to monitor Danes who travel abroad to take part in extremist activities.”
Nearly half the amount earmarked for the four-year plan will be spent by military intelligence, focusing mainly on activities abroad.
A total of 110 Danes have travelled to Syria to fight in the civil war, making the country the second largest source per capita of European jihadist fighters in the Middle East, after Belgium.
Many are believed to have returned home afterwards.
The country has been left in shock after the shootings in Copenhagen which targeted a meeting on free speech and Islam and the capital’s main synagogue.
The suspected gunman, a 22-year-old Dane of Palestinian origin identified as Omar El-Hussein, was shot dead by police early on Sunday.
The attacks have prompted parallels with the Islamist attacks in Paris last month, in which 17 people died.
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