The Jewish star of a hit Swedish TV series has said he left the show due to the unbearable levels of anti-Semitism in the city of Malmo, where the show is set.
Kim Bodnia plays Danish police detective Martin Rohde the in popular crime drama The Bridge, had initially explained his decision to quit as the result of differences of opinions with directors.
But now the Jewish actor – who was a fan favorite before suddenly leaving the show – has said anti-Semitism played a significant role in his decision too.
“It’s growing, and especially in Malmo, where we shot The Bridge in Sweden, it’s not very nice and comfortable to be there as a Jewish person,” he told the Hebrew-language Walla! news site.
"When they didn’t have the script right I could say, ‘no, I don’t feel so safe there’. It’s not funny. It’s growing. We have to deal with it every day and we have to fight against it," he added.
Malmo's dwindling Jewish community has for years complained of rapidly escalating – sometimes violent – anti-Semitism, almost exclusively emanating from the city's large Muslim immigrant population. Some 43% of Malmo residents are of non-Swedish descent, with most hailing from Muslim societies where anti-Semitism is prevalent, including very large Palestinian, Lebanese and Iraqi Arab communities.
Bodnia claimed he had tried, unsuccessfully, to convince scriptwriters to draw attention to the problem of anti-Semitism by writing it into an episode. His idea was to have his character encounter Muslim extremists during an undercover operation in a prison. The episode would have focused on the growing problem of Islamist radicalization inside Swedish jails – a problem which other European states are also facing.
"The situation is if people go to jail, they have this possibility to grow their hate of Jewish people," he said. "It’s growing in the prison. So I suggested that when Martin is undercover in the prison, why didn’t we do something about that?"