The Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that Löfven made his frank admission Tuesday at a news conference on the sidelines of the climate conference in Paris.
“We must be very clear that this anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews has no place in our society,” the Social Democrat prime minister said. “Absolutely no room at all.” The remarks were also reported by the New York Times.
“This shouldn’t have any place,” he continued, expanding on an earlier statement in which he said he was “terribly upset” by recent attacks on Jews and called for “a tolerant and open society where everyone feels safe.”
Just three days before Löfven spoke, a group of around 20 masked men hurled homemade firebombs at a Gothenburg synagogue on Saturday night while a day earlier a crowd in Malmö chanted “We are going to shoot Jews”, according to Swedish radio.
“I am outraged by the attack on the synagogue in Gothenburg yesterday and that violence against Jews was incited at a demonstration in Malmö,” said Löfven.
The extent of anti-Semitic behaviour in Sweden has been apparent for several years. According to a 2013 European Union survey, Swedish Jews were already more afraid of wearing Jewish symbols than Jews in Belgium, Germany, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia and the United Kingdom.
In response, the government allocated $25 million to an educational effort against anti-Semitism and racism.
“In the government, for example, we have made the decision to give money for remembrance trips for school classes. More school students must see this firsthand and be in Auschwitz, for example, or another [former] concentration camps to really understand what happened,” the Swedish PM said.
“We should listen to the generation which experienced this themselves. We should never, ever allow this again. We have work to do in schools, civil society, businesses, and in the workplace. We should of course protect those who feel threatened and under pressure here and now, but above all we must gradually make sure that this form of expression is never actually uttered,” he continued.
Löfven acknowledged the problem when he said expressed concerns about was rising anti-Semitism among immigrants from the Middle East.
“That goes against the very moral fiber of Sweden,” he told Aftonbladet. “Here all people have the same value.”