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Man held over knife attack on Jewish woman in Sweden

A man suspected of stabbing a Jewish woman in the Swedish city of Helsingborg has been caught in Denmark. Swedish police do not currently believe the attack was linked to anti-Semitic motives.

Man held over knife attack on Jewish woman in Sweden
Police stationed officers outside the Jewish centre in Helsingborg, but no longer suspect the attack was a hate crime. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The woman, who is around 60 years old, was attacked on the street on Tuesday morning and taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries. On Wednesday her condition was described as serious but stable.

Police stepped up security at the Jewish centre in Helsingborg due to the woman's role as an active member of the city's Jewish congregation, and investigated possible anti-Semitic motives.

The suspect fled the scene after the attack, but after police had tracked him down and it emerged he was previously known to Swedish authorities, officers said nothing indicated it was a hate crime.

“We're not talking about a hate crime at the moment, just about attempted murder,” local police chief Sven Holgersson told Swedish broadcaster SVT, which reported it appears the suspect lacked a real motive for the attack. The man and the woman did not previously know each other.

“Based on the way things are looking right now, it's an isolated incident,” said Holgersson.

The man, who is aged around 30, was seized by Danish police at around 3am on Wednesday and was expected to be brought to Sweden for questioning.

READ ALSO: Breaking down Sweden's anti-Semitism problem

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CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

READ ALSO: 

More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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