Irish Journalist Wears Kippah For A Day In Malmo, Sweden

With antisemitic hate crimes on the rise in Sweden, Patrick Reilly, an Irish journalist living in Malmo, decided to wear a kippah (skullcap) for a day.

Antisemitic hilarity ensued.

patrick reillyAn Irish journalist living in Malmo, Patrick Reilly, decided to wear a kippah for the day and see what he experienced.

First he was being stared at, giggled at and finally called “f*cking Jew”. Feeling afraid, different and unwelcome he explained that he was relieved to take the kippah off and return to the social privilege of being a non-Jew.

“When I told [rabbi] Goldberg I intended to wear a kippah for a day he was initially concerned.”

The rabbi warned him, ”Don’t do anything you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Be careful as at times it can be unpleasant.”

“The idea was to go about my normal day and also visit places which a potential tourist may go to, albeit with one major difference – the kippah clipped to the back of my head. My intention was not to take the biggest risk possible by venturing into a suburb like Kroksbäck where a Gambian national was recently assaulted along with his young son and nearly thrown off a bridge in a racially motivated crime. Besides, Kroksbäck along with say Rosengård are not exactly tourist hotspots.

“Well, it didn’t take long before I got the feeling that I was on display as I walked towards Möllevången. Möllan, as it is referred to by locals, is the bohemian quarter of Malmö with a bustling fruit and veg market manned largely by immigrants by day and pubs serving cheap beer by night. I’ve walked down this street countless times in my normal garb, without causing as much as a backwards glance. Now, it was as if I had two heads judging by the number of stares arrowed in my direction. As I passed a well-known bar I spotted some lunchtime coffee drinkers looking open mouthed in my direction. Navigating the fruit and vegetable stalls it was obvious that I was being stared at by shoppers and stall workers. When it came time to make a purchase something strange happened. The stall worker started to giggle and beckoned his boss to come over and witness this transaction. Both were friendly to the point where it was almost too much. Stares I’d expected but good-natured laughter I certainly hadn’t. This was strange.”

Reilly had asked a friend to shadow him in the event that anything got “ugly.”

“Whilst in Möllan,” he explained, “we went to one of the local coffee shops sandwiched between the falafel and ethnic food stores.”

As the two waited for their drinks, Reilly and his friend were “spotted by two men in the corner of the small coffee shop. I could feel their eyes burning into the back of my borrowed shiny white kippah… On several occasions people stopped and looked back at me with a mixture of disbelief and menace. Another woman promptly broke into a fit of giggles like it was the funniest thing she had seen in ages.”

“After a while ,” Reilly explained, “I began to forget I was wearing the kippah until a burly man walked aggressively in my direction and mouthed ‘f*cking Jew’ to his friend. It was a reminder that making your Jewish identity in Malmö obvious carries its own risk. Frankly, it was a relief to take it off.”

Read the entire thing.

None of this is surprising, given Malmo’s history of antisemitism and the mayor’s attitude towards it.

Meanwhile, there’s this comment at the bottom of the article.

Malmö has also mary shaw – October 18th, 2013 at 5:15 pm
This is horrible! I’m sorry that this is happening. I am a Muslim woman and I know how this feels. I was treated much more harshly by the State of Israel though. Trying to go to Jerusalem from Amman I was detained for 8 hours and searched down to my underwear by the Israelis. I am an American as well. What should be learned from this is that we need to confront bigotry in all its forms all over the world.

I think this is almost as instructive as the article itself.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media