Siavosh Derakhti, a 23-year-old Swedish Muslim, seems an unlikely champion in the fight against anti-Semitism. But Derakhti, whose parents immigrated to Sweden from Iran, has been recognized for his work in combating hatred and bigotry.
When he was 19, he founded Young Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, now known as Young People Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia. He worked tirelessly to teach Muslim youth about the evils of anti-Semitism, and has taken mixed Muslim and Christian groups to Auschwitz to show them the results of hate.
In 2012, the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism awarded Derakhti the Elsa Award for leading a vigorous campaign against anti-Semitism in Malmo, a city in southern Sweden where anti-Semitism is rampant.
Malmo, with a population of 294,000, is Sweden’s third largest city. Muslims make up 15% of this population — roughly 50,000 people — and greatly outnumber a shrinking Jewish population. By some estimates the total number of Jews in the area is more than 1,000. Malmo has been called one of the most segregated cities in Europe.
In 2013, Derakhti received the Raoul Wallenberg Award. The selection committee said Derakhti showed “through his actions and determination that one person can make a difference.”
President Obama hugged Derakhti and congratulated him for his work during the president’s 2013 visit to the Great Synagogue of Stockholm.
Read more at The Jewish Daily Forward