Donald Trump has confused the world by bringing up a non-existent Swedish terror attack during a rally this weekend. The president – who was speaking to crowds in Florida – claimed that the entirely made-up incident had taken place in the country on Friday evening.
“You look at what’s happening in Germany,” he told the crowds on Saturday. “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
Swedes reacted to the news with bewilderment, with the country’s embassy in Washington reportedly asking the US State department for more information. “We have asked the question today to the state department,” said the Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson. “We are trying to get clarity.”
Unfortunately, due to the attack’s lack of existence, clarity didn’t come – and Trump was forced to admit that he had picked up the story from a Fox News report he had seen the night before. “My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden,” he tweeted.
Sarah Sanders, the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, added that the president had been referring to “rising crime and recent incidents in general”, rather than a “specific incident.”
Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, reacted to Trump’s claims by tweeting a link to the dictionary definition of “post-truth” – Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2016. The country’s former prime minister, Carl Bildt, also shared his thoughts, tweeting: “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.”
On social media, the hashtags #LastNightInSweden and #JeSuisIKEA also began trending, with many users mocking the president for being so misinformed.
Thoughts are with everyone in Sweden at this difficult time.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 19, 2017
However, despite the lack of evidence, Trump’s claims seem to have stuck with some of his supporters – with many of them accusing the “mainstream media” of covering up the attack.
Whether it’s a blindly stupid mistake or a massive ploy, the news signals the start of a weird new trend for Trump’s administration. Earlier this month, the billionaire’s senior advisor Kellyanne Conway was ridiculed for making up another terror attack – or “massacre” – which she claimed took place in Bowling Green, Kentucky. After the event was proven to be fabricated, she was forced to backtrack. “Honest mistakes abound,” she tweeted.