The COVID-19 crisis does not only bring about direct suffering and death, but also sparks racism and anti-Semitism, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has claimed.
“The corona pandemic has also brought about an 'infodemic' – a barrage of false and true information, sometimes designed to hurt and split people and groups. We see examples of conspiracy theories, racism, and anti-Semitism where various individuals and groups are accused of deliberately spreading the virus”, Löfven wrote on his Facebook page.
“In the wake of the pandemic, we see example after example of the best sides of humanity, with solidarity, care and cooperation, but also too many examples of the worst sides”, Löfven mused, calling the pandemic “one of the biggest crises Sweden has faced in modern times”.
To offset this, Löfven urged fellow Swedes to be “source critical” and listen to the official information spread by the authorities.
Löfven also announced that the Holocaust Conference, which was to be held in Malmö in October, will be rescheduled and postponed until 2021.
“I'm looking forward to inviting world leaders, experts and Holocaust survivors to Sweden and Malmö to stand together in the fight against anti-Semitism and for the memory of the Holocaust. Many have already agreed to participate. But we do not know how long travel and restrictions on large gatherings will apply, and therefore the Malmö Forum needs to be postponed”.
The prime minister emphasised that the crisis is “far from over” and that sacrifices “are still needed from all of us”.
In effect, Löfven is taking a page from the Trump administration's book. Earlier this week, the administration’s special envoy against anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, said that the world was witnessing a “tsunami” of anti-Semitism linked to the global spread of the coronavirus, calling it “a recycled blood libel of the Middle Ages”, when Jews were blamed for spreading the Black Death.
Earlier this spring, Israeli researchers from the Kantor Centre for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University warned of a global trend of anti-Semitic hate speech blaming Jews and Israelis for the coronavirus.