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Donald Trump has had a very strong opinion on US immigration but most recently he made statements to defend his recent policies. On Saturday, January 18th, Trump had a rally in Florida where he allegedly made several comments to support his original controversial travel ban. Trump had alluded to mass-fatality terrorist attacks in recent months in European cities such as Paris, Brussels, and Nice.
“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden — SWEDEN!” he told the crowd of supporters. “Who would believe this? Sweden!”
After hearing the accusations that a terrorist attack had occurred in Sweden, many people reached out to know what happened in Sweden. But that’s the thing; it appears no such terrorist attack took place in the country. Swedish authorities reported no terror-related incident or other episode involving large-scale violence. The Embassy of Sweden US tweeted “About #swedenincident #lastnightinsweden unclear to us what President Trump was referring to, have asked US officials for explanation.”
That tweet was just the beginning of a massive tweet storm under the hashtags #lastnightinsweden and #swedenincident, which took a humorous and sarcastic take on Trump’s accusation. Many people were posting images of cozy farmhouses, arrays of complicated IKEA furniture assembly, and an assortment of photos of Sweden’s perhaps best-known export, the 70’s pop sensation ABBA. Other satirical tweets flooded the question #lastnightinsweden such as, “Last night Trump’s hair color appeared in the Northern Lights.”
Each week Sweden allows their national Twitter account to be turned over to a regular citizen and this week’s tweeter-in-chief was a school librarian, Emma Johannson, who found herself bombarded with the tweets about the mystery attack. One of her responses, “And if anyone has missed it, NOTHING HAS HAPPENED IN SWEDEN! There is no terror attack or anything of the sort.”
As the mystery of what Donald Trump was talking about during his speech, he cleared up some of the mystery when he tweeted, “My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was about a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.” So what exactly is this story about immigrants and Sweden? Well, on Fox News they aired an interview segment Friday night featuring filmmaker Ami Horowitz claiming a Swedish government coverup of a surge in migrant-related crime. During his speech, he went on to say “They (Sweden) took large numbers, they’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
Although Trump is correct about the scores of immigrants, crime remains extremely low. This is true for many countries where introducing a large number of immigrants have actually lowered the crime rate. For example, it has been proven by statistics that immigrants have lowered the crime rate in Canada. Crime in Sweden has been falling since 2005, according to official statistics. Although overall crime has been lowered, rape rates have risen, a change partly attributed to changes in the way sexual assault is legally defined.
The former Swedish Prime Minister, Carl Bildt, initially took to Twitter to express a somewhat lighthearted incredulity that Trump would make such an unsupported claim that left many people believing that Sweden endured a recent terrorist strike. Carl said “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.” Later on, the statesman took a more serious approach to a Swedish radio station saying he considered Trump’s seemingly casual disregard for the truth to be deeply worrying. “If we are in a situation where there is tension in the world, we stand between war and peace,” he said in the radio interview, according to the Associated Press. “If we then have a President who spreads lots of false rumors, it can be truly dangerous.”
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