UPDATE: 6:40 p.m. EST — President tweeted Sunday he was referring to a story on Fox News when he mentioned an incident involving immigrants occurring in Sweden Friday night. Swedish officials said there wasn't any serious incident involving immigrants.
The Swedish government Sunday demanded a clarification of U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks about a serious incident Friday night in the Scandinavian country.
At a campaign-style rally in Florida Saturday, Trump, in a riff about keeping America safe, suggested Sweden had suffered immigrant-related security problems, urging his followers to “look at what’s happening. We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers [of refugees]. They're having problems like they never thought possible.”
Swedish officials, however, have no idea what Trump was referring to.
“Our embassy in Washington has been in contact with the U.S. foreign affairs office [State Department] to get clarification. We’re of course wondering [what he referred to],” Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson told the Swedish news agency TT.
“Let’s see if we get an answer from the embassy.”
The State Department told Reuters it would not comment on diplomatic communications.
Former Swedish Prime Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted a piece from Sweden’s foreign policy declaration, citing the Oxford Dictionaries declaration of the term “post-truth” as its international word of the year.
Carl Bildt, Wallstrom’s predecessor, was less circumspect in his reaction.
The Twitter hashtag #lastnightinsweden also took off.
Trump has a penchant for making statements with little evidence to back them up. During his press conference Thursday he repeated the assertion that his electoral victory was the biggest since Ronald Reagan’s. When it was pointed out that he was wrong, he said he had heard the information from someone.
Among his other favorite misstatements are that he would have won the popular vote if it hadn’t been for as many as 5 million illegal voters — there’s no evidence of such overwhelming voter fraud — and that the terrorists who committed the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, in Brussels last March 22, and in Nice, France, July 14 were among the refugees who have been taken in by Germany and other European countries — they weren’t; they were citizens of France and Belgium.
The New York Times reported Trump may have based his statements on a Fox News report about filmmaker Ami Horowitz, who asserted migrants in Sweden have been responsible for a crime wave.
“Sweden had its first terrorist Islamic attack not that long ago, so they’re now getting a taste of what we’ve been seeing across Europe already,” Horowitz said. But it was unclear to what he was referring. Iraqi-born Taimour Abdulwahab was responsible for a 2010 suicide attack in central Stockholm, but that was long before the current wave of immigrants began.