Swedes scratch heads at Trump's suggestion of major incident

Sweden had a record 163,000 asylum applications in 2015, and Trump mentioned the country in the context of terror attacks in other European cities at a rally on Saturday.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during his "Make America Great Again" rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2017.

Swedes have been scratching their heads and ridiculing President Donald Trump's remarks that suggested a major incident had happened in the Scandinavian country.

During a rally in Florida on Saturday, Mr. Trump said "look what's happening last night in Sweden" as he alluded to past terror attacks in Europe. It wasn't clear what he was referring to and there were no high-profile situations reported in Sweden on Friday night.

The comment prompted a barrage of social media reaction on Sunday, with hundreds of tweets, and a local newspaper published a list of events that happened on Friday that appeared to have no connections to any terror-like activity.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson said that the government wasn't aware of any "terror-linked major incidents." Sweden's Security Police said it had no reason to change the terror threat level.

"Nothing has occurred which would cause us to raise that level," agency spokesman Karl Melin said.

Former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted , "Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound."

The Aftonbladet tabloid addressed Trump in an article Sunday, "This happened in Sweden Friday night, Mr President," and listed in English some events that had happened in Sweden, including a man being treated for severe burns, an avalanche warning and police chasing a drunken driver.

One Twitter user said "After the terrible events #lastnightinSweden, IKEA have sold out of this" and posted a mock Ikea instruction manual on how to build a "Border Wall," saying the pieces had sold out.

Sweden, which has a long reputation for welcoming refugees and migrants, had a record 163,000 asylum applications in 2015 and it has since cut back on the number it annually accepts. Its most recent attack was in the capital, Stockholm, in December 2010, when an Iraqi-born Swede detonated two devices, including one that killed him but no one else.

At the rally, Trump told his followers to look what was happening in Germany, and also mentioned Paris, Brussels and Nice, in apparent reference to the terror attacks there. He didn't specify what was supposed to have happened in Sweden, simply saying "Sweden, who would believe this, Sweden."

Over the past few weeks, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway has also referred to a "Bowling Green Massacre" that never occurred, and she was caught up in a public feud with CNN.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.