The constitution provides for “the freedom to practice one’s religion alone or in the company of others” and prohibits discrimination based on religion. The government facilitates revenue collection for 15 diverse religious groups through the taxation system, and distributes publicly funded grants to 42 applicant religious groups in proportion to membership. The police initiated a national strategy to combat hate crimes that included the establishment of permanent hate crime units focusing on, among other things, religiously based hate crimes in the three largest urban areas and increased hate crime detection and prevention capabilities nationwide. National and local authorities granted expedited permission for Malmo’s Jewish congregation to install video surveillance equipment at its facilities. Some Muslim groups continued to express concerns about profiling in existing and proposed anti-terror legislation. Some Muslim and Jewish communities also expressed concern about restrictions on animal slaughter, and some Jews said the laws on circumcision interfered with their religious traditions. The prime minister and other government officials repeatedly stated their public support for religious freedom in general and the protection of the Jewish community in particular. Politicians participated in public demonstrations condemning violence against mosques and synagogues.
The number of recorded hate crimes and cases of discrimination based on religion increased for all groups. Reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes increased 50 percent, anti-Christian hate crimes increased 75 percent, anti-Semitic hate crimes increased 38 percent, and hate crimes against all other religious groups increased 23 percent. Muslims, especially women, were targets of verbal and physical abuse. Arsonists targeted two mosques and two churches using Molotov cocktails. An imam and a rabbi in Gothenburg received bomb and death threats on separate occasions.
U.S. embassy staff and U.S. government visitors, including the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, met with state and local authorities to advocate for increased protection of religious minorities. The Ambassador condemned anti-Semitism in a speech on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Senior embassy staff visited religious leaders in Malmo to promote religious tolerance in response to reports about anti-Semitism. The U.S. embassy sponsored the participation of a young civil society leader working against anti-Semitism and xenophobia on a U.S. government exchange program aimed at promoting religious freedom.