At what was billed as a campaign rally on Saturday, Feb. 18, in Melbourne, Florida, President Donald Trump confused the world when, while listing terror-related incidents in Europe, he mentioned “last night in Sweden” as a reason to be wary of refugees. However, there did not appear to be any terror attacks Friday night in Sweden.
Many news outlets attempted to uncover the event to which Trump may have been referring. The Stockholm tabloid Aftonbladet posted a list of events to happen Feb. 17 across the country, like an avalanche warning and a mild police chase of a drunken driver.
The former Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, put it a little more bluntly, tweeting “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?” According to the Associated Press, the last terrorist attack in Sweden happened back in 2010, in which a Swedish citizen born in Iraq killed himself and injured two others in a suicide bombing.
However, a bombing last month left one seriously injured when an asylum center in Gothenburg was attacked by a group of three members of the Nordic Resistance Movement, a group advocating the preservation of Nordic countries as enclaves of northern European heritage. Trump clarified on Twitter the next morning that he was referring to “a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants and Sweden.”
The story was likely a piece on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” about documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz and his attempts to report on the ways in which migrants and refugees are assimilating into Swedish society. Swedish media, including the aforementioned Aftonbladet, have criticized Horowitz’s reporting as biased and not fully factual. Others have also criticized the fact that Trump was obtaining information on potential terrorist attacks from a television channel as opposed to the other forms of information gathering available to the President of the United States. The Swedish government openly criticized the suggestion that Sweden was being made unsafe by their aggressive resettlement of refugees.
The Twitter account “@Sweden,” which is owned by the Swedish government and controlled by a different Swedish citizen every week, said, “a lot happened #lastnightinSweden. Things happen all of the time. Just not the things @realDonaldTrump is spreading.”
Similarly, the Swedish embassy in Washington has contacted the White House seeking clarification on the president’s comments, according to the AP. American author Gary Shteyngart also made a decisive statement on the subject using Twitter: “Sweden stood with us after Bowling Green. Today we stand with Sweden.”
Although Trump broadcast misinformation about Sweden’s present situation, the president did draw some attention to the issue of immigration that does exist in Europe as a whole. Statistics do not seem to back Trump’s claims. In fact, the rate of crime has not increased as a result of immigration. Indeed, in recent years, there has been a decline in thefts, robberies, and drug offenses. Still, despite outcry against his commentary, President Trump continues to defend his claims.