US President Donald Trump has tweeted that he was referring to a Fox News report when he appeared to refer to Sweden as the site of a terror incident – the latest of several instances where his administration appeared to reference non-existent attacks.
My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2017
President Trump was addressing a campaign-style rally in Florida when he launched into a list of places that have been targeted by terrorists.
“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. They’re having problems like they never thought possible,” he said, provoking mockery on social media.
Trump’s speech was aimed at defending his order last month that blocked refugees and travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.
The order has been suspended by a federal appeals court, and Trump vowed to introduce a new order this week as a means of protecting Americans at home.
He went on to name Brussels, Nice and Paris – European cities that have been struck by deadly terror attacks.
Sweden’s embassy in Washington has asked for an explanation, the foreign ministry in Stockholm said Sunday.
@fuadmb About #swedenincident #lastnightinsweden unclear to us what President Trump was referring to,have asked US officials for explanation
— Embassy of Sweden US (@SwedeninUSA) February 19, 2017
For Donald Trump’s supporters, the social media and reporting frenzy is yet more evidence of what they see as pervasive media bias against President Trump.
“We all make mistakes or misspeak on some facts,” said Michelle Mesi from Texas.
“But let’s face it, those misspeaks don’t change the fact that terror is a reality and we are owed due diligence to keep America safe.” she said.
Massachusetts Trump voter Joe Hession said the media has been obsessed over the “smallest dumb stuff.”
“They will nit-pick anything he does or says,” Mr Hession said.
Users on Twitter, Trump’s favorite communication platform, cracked jokes about the apparent miscue using the hashtags #lastnightinSweden and #SwedenIncident.
I’m safe! In fact, we’re all safe here in Sweden.#lastnightinsweden @POTUS @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/tdZnX0O0Qn
— Kenneth Bodin (@KennethBodin) February 19, 2017
Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt asked: “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.”
Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound. 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/XWgw8Fz7tj
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 19, 2017
Gunnar Hokmark, a Swedish member of the European Parliament, retweeted a post that said “#lastnightinSweden my son dropped his hotdog in the campfire. So sad!”
Hokmark added his own comment: “How could he know?”
Numerous internet wags responded with Ikea-themed tweets. Some posted photos of the impossible-to-understand instructions for assembling Ikea furniture, calling it “Secret Plans for the #SwedenIncident.”
It wasn’t a pretty sight #lastnightinsweden #DonaldTrump #jesuisikea pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/SMa8jc8K7G
— Dimitri Verbelen (@DimitriVerbelen) February 19, 2017’Nothing has happened’
Posts flooded into @sweden, the country’s official Twitter account which is run by a different Swede each week.
This week’s curator, Emma, who describes herself as a school librarian and mother, said the account had received 800 mentions in four hours.
“No. Nothing has happened here in Sweden. There has not (been) any terrorist attacks here. At all. The main news right now is about Melfest,” she said, referring to the competition to pick the performer who will represent Sweden at the Eurovision singing contest.
Top Trump aides in his month-old administration have faced criticism and ridicule after speaking publicly about massacres that never took place.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway — who famously coined the term “alternative facts” — referred to a “Bowling Green massacre” during an interview.
She later tweeted that she meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists” — referring to two Iraqi men who were indicted in 2011 for trying to send money and weapons to Al-Qaeda, and using improvised explosive devices against US soldiers in Iraq.
And White House spokesman Sean Spicer made three separate references in one week to an attack in Atlanta.
He later said he meant to say Orlando, the Florida city where an American of Afghan origin gunned down 49 people at a gay nightclub last year.