United States President Donald Trump on Sunday created anger and confusion by seemingly referring to a refugee-driven terror attack in Sweden that did not in fact take place. The White House rushed to clarify his statements, even as Sweden reacted with amusement and derision. “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,” Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt tweeted.
At one of his latest rallies, Trump was mid-rant about refugees when he said, “look at what’s happening last night in Sweden”, amidst a list of terror attacks in Europe. “Sweden, who would believe this?” he said. Not many did, with Twitter users throwing in jokes about various imaginary situations involving Trump and Swedish pop culture icons including Abba and IKEA.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders clarified that Trump had been talking about “rising crime and incidents in general”, rather than any specific terror attacks. A few hours later Trump claimed he had been referring to a segment he saw on Fox News.
On Friday, the channel had hosted a documentary filmmaker who had claimed there had been a rise in crime committed by refugees in Sweden lately. There is no official record of such a development. Sweden has over the decades taken in thousands of refugees from conflict-ridden parts of the world.
In January, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway had attempted to justify Trump’s immigrant ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries by making up a terror attack that she called “the Bowling Green massacre”. Though Conway later said she misspoke, several publications noted that she had referred to the supposed incident several times in the past.