POLITICS

Ukip's Swedish EU Allies Accused Of Antisemitism

19/12/2014 09:54 GMT | Updated 19/12/2014 09:59 GMT
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Ukip's Swedish allies in the European Parliament have been accused of antisemitism following comments made about Jewish immigrants.

In an interview this week with newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Björn Söder, the leader of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party, was asked whether a person could be Jewish and Swedish at the same time. "I think most people of Jewish origin that have become Swedes leave their Jewish identity," he said.

Earlier this week it was revealed that Ukip will secure an extra £1.5m in funding by creating a new EU-wide political party. The BBC reported that Ukip's new Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE) party will contain 27 MEPs. The new party is expected to include 21 from Ukip and two from the Sweden Democrats - Kristina Winberg and Peter Lundgren. The pair are already members of Ukip's Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group in the Strasbourg parliament.

The move has split Ukip, as not all of Nigel Farage's MEPs are happy with the eurosceptic party being seen to be taking money from the European Union in this way.

Lena Posner Körösi, president of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, told The Guardian the comments were "good old rightwing antisemitism" and "exactly like in 1930s Germany".

Söder's remarks have provoked controversy in Sweden, where his party secure 13% at the last election. He has said the remark was taken out of context. In the interview he added: "One must distinguish between citizenship and nationhood. They can still be Swedish citizens and live in Sweden. Sami and Jews have lived in Sweden for a long time.

"We have an open Swedishness, an individual can become Swedish regardless of background,” he said. “But it requires that they be assimilated."

An EFDD (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy) spokesman said: "The Sweden Democrats are not far right, nor is Björn Söder its leader, as per the newspaper headline.

"The international secretary of the Sweden Democrats is of Jewish heritage and the party is actually very pro-Israel.

The EFDD is confident, as the man says himself that his comments are taken completely out of context. And anyway, Mr Söder does not speak for UKIP in any way or at any time."

Ukip's European allies have long caused Farage problems. In October the Polish MEP recruited to rescue the EFD from being disbanded was revealed to have joked about hitting women and defended Adolf Hitler's tax policy.

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