The Sweden claim was simply too good an opportunity, especially after Mr T doubled down with it. It was then inevitable that the #JeSuisIkea tag or similar would become a bit of a fun spot for many to troll him.
First,let’s dig into the claim itself.
What actually happened?
While speaking last Saturday (18th Feb) at a rally in Florida, Mr T attempted to defend his stance on immigrants as follows …
You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden.
Note that he claimed something specific happened the previous night, at this point it was not a generic claim, but a reference to something very specific.
Least you wonder, absolutely nothing happened, this was more of his on-going pattern of just making stuff up. There is a technical word that is commonly used to describe that, and that word is “lying”.
Even Carl Bildt, who was Prime Minister of Sweden from 1991 to 1994, commented on it as follows …
Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound. https://t.co/XWgw8Fz7tj
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 19, 2017
Everything about all of this is weird, even down to the fact that he was holding such a rally at all. Why is he even back on the campaign trail?
So how did his followers respond to the observation that this was fictitious bullshit?
Basically by claiming that the media was covering it up …
Oh my god, Trump supporters are now convinced that there actually WAS an attack in Sweden, but that the media is covering it up. JFC. pic.twitter.com/4ITa9PvBoi
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) February 19, 2017
A bit later Mr T rowed back his comments a bit, and instead of claiming something specific had happened the previous night, he explained that he had watched a “documentary” on Fox News, one of his favourite “credible” media outlets.
Let’s dig into that a bit then.
Has a Fox Report uncovered a hard truth?
Basically no, it is more or less complete fiction, and that is a verified fact.
The folks over in Sweden have fact checked the various claims within the Ami Horowitz Fox Report, and here it all is …
1. Claim: In the introduction to the Fox News segment, the presenter says: ”In 2016 alone the country accepted more than 160,000 asylum seekers”.
Fact: In 2016, nearly 29,000 people sought asylum in Sweden, a very sharp decline compared to 2015, when nearly 163,000 sought asylum, according to the Migration Board. In 2016 there were nearly 112,000 asylum decisions taken, some 67,000 were approved.
2. Claim: “They feel it is their moral duty to open their borders to all and any refugees that want to come to them”, says filmmaker Ami Horowitz in the interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Fact: In November 2015 Sweden sharpened border controls to temporarily include arrivals from within the EU, followed by temporary identity checks in January 2016. Together with actions in other European countries, led to a dramatic decline in the number of asylum seekers (see point 1).
In 2016, asylum policies were tightened in a number of ways, which meant that Sweden went from having the EU’s most generous asylum laws to the EU minimum level, according to the Migration Board.
3. Claim: “There was an absolute surge in gun violence and rape in Sweden once they began this open door policy” says Horowitz.
Fact: The number of killings in “the criminal world” has increased from an average of 4 per year 1990–1994, to 14 per year from 2010 to 2014, in the entire country of 10 million people. In 2015 the number is preliminarily estimated at 28, according to criminologist Michael Rying at the Police Authority.
Several such shootings took place also in 2016, but the overall rate of deadly violence in Sweden is still about 1 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 5 per 100,000 in the US, according to the FBI.
The number of reports of rape has increased. However, because of several changes in sexual crimes legislation, and a belief that the propensity to report sexual crimes is increasing, it is difficult to compare the numbers over time.
Self reported female victims of sexual crimes number between 1 and 1.5 percent during the period 2005–2012. In the latest survey, in 2015, the figure had risen to 3 percent, according to the National Crime Prevention Agency. The responses say nothing about the type of sexual offenses.
4. Claim (about immigrant suburbs): “These are areas that cops won’t even enter, because it’s too dangerous for them. This is the policy of the national police authority in Sweden” says Horowitz.
Fact: Untrue. On the contrary, the police have strengthened their presence in several areas.
“There are no areas that the police do not go in to. In a report from 2015 the police describe 15 particularly vulnerable areas. These areas are characterized by, among other things, the difficulty for the police to fulfill its duty. There are no guidelines that the police should not visit these areas” writes Johanna Blomqvist, spokesperson for the national policeforce, to TT.
5. Claim: “The government has gone out of its way to try to cover up some of these problems”, says Horowitz.
Fact: “The Foreign Ministry and the embassies are working continuously to spread an accurate and fair picture of Sweden. Unfortunately, we see a general tendency that the incidence of false information is increasing,” foreign Minister Margot Wallström writes in an email to TT on Monday.
6. Claim: “Sweden had its first terrorist Islamic attack not that long ago, so they’re now getting a taste of what we have been seeing in Europe already” says Horowitz.
Fact: This probably refers to suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab, who blew himself up at the corner Bryggargatan and Drottninggatan in central Stockholm over six years ago (December 11th, 2010). No one else was injured. In an audio file that Abdulwahab emailed to TT, the security police (Säpo) and his family the same day, he wrote that “The Islamic state” exists in Sweden and Europe, and that its “actions will speak for themselves.”
Article by TT’s Mattias Areskog and Malin Ekmark. Translation by Philip O’Connor and Vicktor Olsson.
Yes, but what about those two policemen in Sweden who were part of that documentary, they clearly explained the problems they faced with immigrants.
Er no, that was a bit of rather blatant manipulation. They have since explained that they were not talking about immigrants at all …
Two Swedish police officers were interviewed in the film. Anders Göranzon and Jacob Ekström answered questions about how weapons are becoming more accessible. Horowitz also asked the officers about how crime has spread through cities. But the police officers now say that their answers were taken out of context, and are very critical of how their comments were portrayed on Fox News ”Tucker Carlson Tonight”. ”I don’t understand why we are a part of the segment. The interview was about something completely different to what Fox News and Horowitz were talking about”, says Anders Göranzon.
Why were you interviewed?
”It was supposed to be about crime in high risk areas. Areas with high crime rates. There wasn’t any focus on migration or immigration”.
How did you react to the news segment?
”We don’t stand behind it. It shocked us. He has edited the answers. We were answering completely different questions in the interview. This is bad journalism.”
Anders Göranzon continues: ”It feels like hell. The real questions should be shown along with our answers. We don’t own the rights to the film, but the end result is that we don’t want to talk to journalists after this. We can’t trust each other.”
Have you done anything to stop the news segment?
”We just saw it. What can we do? One thing is talking to you. The excerpt they showed doesn’t say anything, we answered a different question. We don’t stand behind what he says. He is a madman.”
When faced with all this, Ami Horowitz has claimed that he did tell them exactly what the interview was all about and that they simply said the above when ordered to do so. Given that he is Fox News with a reputation for constantly making stuff up, his unverified rebuttal is not being believed by anybody, expect perhaps Trump supporters who will accept anything that supports their fantasy narrative.
Are there any general statistics that backup the Fox Report claims?
Moreover, statistics in Sweden do not back Mr. Trump’s claims. Preliminary data released last month by Sweden’s crime prevention council found no appreciable increase in crimes from 2015, when the country processed a record 163,000 asylum applications, to 2016. The council did note an increase in assaults and rapes last year, but also recorded a drop in thefts, robberies and drug offenses.
Officials say they have not seen any evidence for the claim, prevalent in right-wing media like Breitbart and Infowars, that migration has driven a surge in crime. The government has not provided a breakdown of crime statistics according to the ethnic or national background of suspects since 2005, though one right-wing party has called on the government to provide updated statistics.
“The general crime rate in Sweden is below the U.S. national average,” the State Department noted last May.
Crime in Sweden has not increased over the last 20 years. On the contrary, Sweden is safer.
— @sweden / Max (@sweden) February 20, 2017
More people are working in Sweden than ever before…
…and in % a higher share is working than in 25 years.https://t.co/ApmqZoikCt
— @sweden / Max (@sweden) February 20, 2017
What actually happened in Sweden on the night in question?
A Swedish newspaper has published a detailed list of everything that happened in Sweden on Friday night. This list is now available on that paper’s website in english …
It includes stuff like this …
8:23 PM: A man died in hospital, after an accident in the workplace earlier that day in the city of Borås.
8:46 PM: Due to harsh weather in the northern parts of Sweden the road E10 was closed between Katterjåkk and Riksgränsen. Due to strong winds and snow in the region the Met office also issued an avalanche warning.
But then there was also this gem that is perhaps ever so Swedish …
11:23 AM: …A wooden moose got the attention of a lovesick moose bull. It all happened in 79 year old Ove Lindqvist’s garden in Byske outside Skellefteå, northern Sweden. ”I thought it was going to start a fight, instead it humped the wooden moose thrice”, he said.
Lots of things happened on Friday night in Sweden, but none of the things claimed by Mr T are in that list.
If your stance is one in which credible media outlets are fake, and those with a reputation for simply making stuff up are in turn declared to be credible, then the result will be exactly this.
It should be extremely disturbing to discover that the individual elected to make the hard decisions is opting to lean upon unreliable sources for his “facts”, but when it comes to those that put him there, apparently not.
Their on-going support will have dire economic and also environmental consequences, not just for themselves, but for all of us.
Some of the Tweets
What happened in Sweden Friday night? Did they catch the Bowling Green Massacre perpetrators?
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 19, 2017
— Jeanna Skinner (@JeannaLStars) February 19, 2017
— Gaia Greco (@gaiagreco_00) February 19, 2017
— Dimitri Verbelen (@DimitriVerbelen) February 19, 2017
— Postfaktisch🇪🇺 (@piarism) February 19, 2017
— Jeff (@lontransitgeek) February 20, 2017
— Emma Booth (@emmafitz78) February 20, 2017
— Breaking Burgh (@BreakingBurgh) February 20, 2017
— Street Food & Vine (@StreetFoodUK) February 20, 2017