(JTA) – Swedish police posted officers at a Jewish cemetery in Malmo after mourners said they had been intimidated there by passersby.
The alleged intimidation occurred on March 10 at Malmo’s Ostra, or eastern, Jewish cemetery, the online edition of the Expressen daily reported on Saturday. Malmo police stationed at the cemetery two police officers, who saw two cars hurriedly leaving the area as they approached it shortly after midnight, according to the report.
Police were called to the scene by a 59-year-old man who stayed at the cemetery overnight and who had felt intimidated by several teenagers whom he saw in the area, but who hid from sight when they noticed they were being watched.
The 59-year-old man stayed overnight inside a preparation room inside the cemetery to watch over the body of his deceased brother ahead of the burial – a ritual known as shmirat hamet, or guarding of the dead. The mourner’s son also was present.
After seeing the teenagers watching him during the day, the man guarding the body, who was not identified, called police when he feared someone was trying to break into the preparation room, he told the newspaper.
“It sounded like someone was trying to enter. We got really scared,” he said. “Instead of mourning in peace, we focused on what was happening outside. They’re trying to scare us and, sadly, they are succeeding.”
Malmo has a few hundred Jewish residents who, in recent years, have come under attack from some members of the southern city’s Muslim population, which constitutes one third of the city’s population.
According to Expressen, over the past two years, some 137 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in the Malmo region, a figure higher than anywhere else in Sweden.