Following President Donald Trump citing an incident in Sweden that apparently never took place, pro-Trump members of the media attempted to cover for him by perpetuating the lie of “no-go zones” in Sweden despite Swedish authorities debunking this claim.
Riots Erupt In Sweden Following False Trump Claims Of Muslim Violence In The Country
Trump Told Supporters To “Look At What’s Happening … In Sweden” Before Mentioning Three European Cities Struck By Domestic Terrorists. President Donald Trump told supporters at a February 18 rally in Florida to to “look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” which he said “took in large numbers” of Muslim immigrants and refugees, before mentioning three French and Belgian cities attacked by domestic terrorists over the past two years. According to The Washington Post, “his remarks were widely perceived … as suggesting that an attack had occurred Friday night in Sweden.” He later tweeted that he was talking about a story that aired on on Fox News, likely an interview with a filmmaker who “has blamed refugees for what he says is a crime wave in Sweden,” according to The Post. From the February 20 article:
President Trump caused confusion during a Saturday rally in Florida when he said: “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?” Trump then mentioned the French cities of Nice and Paris and the Belgian capital, Brussels. The three European cities were attacked by terrorists over the past two years.
Although Trump did not explicitly say it, his remarks were widely perceived in the United States and abroad as suggesting that an attack had occurred Friday night in Sweden.
Trump attempted to clarify his remarks, tweeting Sunday: “My statement as to what's happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.”
Trump probably was referring to an interview with filmmaker Ami Horowitz on Fox News Channel's “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which started circulating on social media shortly after Trump's speech in Florida. Horowitz has blamed refugees for what he says is a crime wave in Sweden. The filmmaker's claims have since come under scrutiny, as Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported Monday. Two Swedish police officers who were interviewed by Horowitz said that their comments had been taken out of context. One of them, Anders Göranzon, accused the filmmaker of being a “madman.” [The Washington Post, 2/20/17]
Riot Occurs In Rinkeby, Sweden, Injures Photojournalist. According to The New York Times, “About 20 to 30 masked men threw stones and other objects at police officers in the suburb” of Rinkeby, Sweden, “after the police arrested a man on suspicion of dealing drugs” The suburb is “predominantly inhabited by immigrants,” and “a photojournalist was injured in the clashes.” From the February 21 article:
Residents in a northwestern suburb predominantly inhabited by immigrants have clashed with police officers, two days after President Trump unleashed a vague but pointed critique of Sweden’s migration policies.
About 20 to 30 masked men threw stones and other objects at police officers in the suburb, Rinkeby, after the police arrested a man on suspicion of dealing drugs. A police officer fired a warning shot, but the disturbances continued for several more hours, stretching into early Tuesday morning. A photojournalist was injured in the clashes.
Interior Minister Anders Ygeman called the clashes on Monday “very serious.” But, he added: “There is work being done to make our suburbs and socially vulnerable areas safer. Sometimes it can get a little messy, but the police are not backing down.”
Nonetheless, the disturbances in Rinkeby were seized upon by some people online as evidence of Mr. Trump’s claim. Rinkeby, an economically deprived area of about 16,000 people, is overwhelmingly populated by residents with immigrant backgrounds. [The New York Times, 2/21/17]
Pro-Trump News Outlets Respond By Pushing “No-Go Zone” Myth In Sweden
Breitbart.com: “Left Wing Swedish Newspaper Journalist Attacked In ‘No Go Zone.’” Breitbart.com, in a piece headlined, “Left Wing Swedish Newspaper Journalist Attacked in ‘No Go Zone,’” wrote a photographer “was the victim of an attack by rioters at the notorious Stockholm migrant-populated suburb of Rinkeby.” The piece claimed the riot came “only days” after Trump “commented on the fracturing of Swedish society due to mass migration.” From the February 21 article:
A photographer for Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, was the victim of an attack by rioters at the notorious Stockholm migrant-populated suburb of Rinkeby.
The continued riots in the densely migrant-populated Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby has seen multiple cars set on fire and a photographer from Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter was attacked. The photographer said the attack occurred just after 10:00 pm at night and said, “I was met with a lot of punches and kicks on both the body and the head. I have spent the night in the hospital,” Dagens Nyheter reports.
U.S. President Donald Trump commented on the fracturing of Swedish society due to mass migration only days before the Rinkeby riots broke out. The Swedish establishment mocked the president assuring the foreign public that Sweden was fine. [Breitbart.com, 2/21/17]
FoxNews.com: Scene Of Riot Was Place Where Film Crew Previously Tried To Enter A “No Go Zone.” FoxNews.com claimed that the riot’s location “is the same area where an Australian ‘60 Minutes’ crew was attacked by a group of men” who were “attempting to enter a so-called ‘no go zone.’’’ It also noted the riot “came just days after President Trump was mocked during a Saturday campaign rally for mentioning Sweden alongside a list of European targets of terror.” From the February 21 article:
Riots erupted in a heavily immigrant Stockholm suburb Monday night, as masked looters set cars ablaze and threw rocks at cops, injuring one police officer, Swedish officials said.
The violence in Rinkeby began around 8 p.m., when officers arrested a suspect at an underground station on drug charges, The Local reported. A group soon gathered, hurling rocks and other objects at officers and prompting one cop to fire his gun “in a situation that demanded he use his firearm,” police spokesman Lars Bystrom said.
It came just days after President Trump was mocked during a Saturday campaign rally for mentioning Sweden alongside a list of European targets of terror. Trump later said his “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden” remark was in response to a Fox News report on the country’s refugee crime crisis that aired on Friday evening.
Rinkeby is the same area where an Australian “60 Minutes” crew was attacked by a group of men in April 2016. The film crew was attempting to enter a so-called “no go zone,” which authorities deny they use as a label. Rinkeby, however, has been officially classified as one of 15 “particularly vulnerable” areas across Sweden. [FoxNews.com, 2/21/17]
Fox Business’ Ashley Webster: “Some Call” Area Of Riot “A No-Go Zone.” Discussing Trump’s remarks on Sweden, Fox Business host Stuart Varney noted the a riot “erupted last night in Sweden in a heavily immigrant area.” Ashley Webster then claimed, “a film crew from Australia's 60 Minutes were attacked” in the same area previously, which “some call … a no-go zone.” From the February 21 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): Filmmaker Ami Horowitz spoke to Fox’s Tucker Carlson Friday night about his investigation of refugees in Sweden.
Then on Saturday night, President Trump referenced that report.
Producer, tell me again, have we just gotten video in of a riot in an immigrant area in Sweden? We’ve got this?
ASHLEY WEBSTER: Yeah. This erupted last night in Sweden in a heavily immigrant area. Riots erupted, cars were burned, stores looted. A police officer was forced to use his gun, which is a rarity in Sweden. It’s in the same area where they’ve had problems before. A film crew, to Ami's point, a film crew from Australia's 60 Minutes were attacked, not last night, but were attacked in the same area last year. Some call it a “no-go zone.” Swedish police like to classify it as an area of particular vulnerability. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 2/21/17]
TheBlaze’s Dana Loesch: “There’s Been An Increase In No-Go Zones” In Sweden. While discussing Trump’s remarks on Sweden with Fox host Sandra Smith, TheBlaze’s Dana Loesch claimed “There’s been an increase in no-go zones” in Sweden. From the February 20 edition of Fox News’ The First 100 Days:
MATT BENNETT: [President Trump] should not be getting news about Europe from Fox News.
SANDRA SMITH (HOST): We’re getting off subject here because there’s obviously a problem that he’s trying to bring up. Guy, I see you nodding your head. Let's talk about Sweden and the problem that’s there. Dana, jump in here as well. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers in just the last few years. Top three countries of origin: Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Even one of their own people in Sweden, one of their own researchers, I found this in a Swedish newspaper, warning that segregation and long-term unemployment of refugees could have a negative effect on crime rates in Sweden in the future. Why is nobody willing to discuss what is happening and what very quickly could be happening in some of these parts of the world?
DANA LOESCH: You are absolutely right, Sandra. There’s been an increase in no-go zones. Ami Horwitz was discussing this. There’s also we’ve heard from a number of individuals who work with police in Sweden. They say that they’re at a breaking point where it concerns crime. [Fox News, The First 100 Days, 2/20/17]
Swedish Authorities Say Rumors Of “No-Go Zones” Have “Never Been True”
Malmö, Sweden Police Spokesman: “No-Go Zones” Are “A Questions That Appears Every Now And Then,” But “It Has Never Been True.” According to Malmö police spokesperson Lars Förstell, the myth of “no-go zones” in Sweden “has never been true.” While Förstell acknowledged that violent crime is a problem, he noted that there is “nothing special about right now,” and that “there is no evidence” that the violent crime “has to do with refugees.” From Buzzfeed News’ January 24 article:
A recent headline in the UK tabloid Express suggested that “thugs” had turned the entire city into a “no-go zone,” areas where police are said to be unable to uphold the law.
Malmö police, however, say there’s absolutely no truth to the idea of “no-go zones.”
“It’s a question that appears every now and then,” police spokesperson Lars Förstell told BuzzFeed News. “It has never been true.”
Förstell also said that while violent crime is certainly a problem, there is “nothing special about right now,” and that there is no evidence any of it has to do with refugees. In fact, it appears linked to a cycle of violence among local gangs that dates back to 2008 — many years before the migration crisis. [Buzzfeed News, 1/24/17]
Swedish Police Chief: There Is No Such Thing As “No-Go Zones” In Sweden. According to Botkyrka police chief Erik Åkerlund, authorities “identified over 50 areas that needed prioritising” in his district, but the term “no-go zones” is “not a serious way of describing the work they do in the prioritised areas,” adding, “for me it is more like 'go-go zones', it is where we work." From Radio Sweden’s February 15 article:
When the police authority a few years ago identified over 50 areas that needed prioritising, it was turned into a story about 'no-go zones' in Sweden. There is no such thing, says local police chief Erik Åkerlund.
A few years ago, as part of the reorganisation of the Swedish police force, the national operations department NOA collated a report in which local police identified over 50 “vulnerable areas,” which needed more attention from the police. And just over a year ago, 15 of these areas were identified as “particularly vulnerable.” Another handful were deemed to be in the “risk zone.”
Three of those areas can be found in Botkyrka, south of Stockholm, where Erik Åkerlund is the local police chief. To him, prioritising in this way was a sensible, “mature” thing to do.
The term 'no-go zones' quickly caught on, and it continues to do the rounds in social media today. But Erik Åkerlund thinks this is not a serious way of describing the work they do in the prioritised areas.
For me it is more like 'go-go zones', it is where we work," he said.
This is not to say that there are no problems in these areas, there is a reason that they have been defined as 'particularly vulnerable'. But the advantage of the definition is that it has meant a significant rise in resources, said Åkerlund. Today, there are twice as many police officers on the beat in Botkyrka compared to only a year and a half ago. [Radio Sweden, 2/15/17]
Stockholm Police Officer: “There Are Areas With Major Challenges, Like A High Crime Rate, Poverty ... But Calling Them ‘No-Go Zones’ Paints An Unfair Image.” According to a Vice interview with Stockholm police officer Niclas Andersson, “there aren't any no-go zones in Sweden.” Andersson acknowledged that “There are areas with major challenges, like a high crime rate, poverty and little faith in the police or society in general. But calling them “no-go zones” paints an unfair image," and added that “police do visit these neighbourhoods whenever necessary." From Vice’s November 2, 2016, report:
These reports likely refer to the 53 geographical areas in Sweden that are listed in an official police report as “vulnerable areas”. In these areas, crime and unemployment rates are generally higher than in the rest of the country.
I called the police station in Rinkeby in Stockholm (a “particularly vulnerable area” according to the police report and a “no-go zone” according to Breitbart) and spoke to officer Niclas Andersson. He said there aren't any no-go zones in Sweden. “There are areas with major challenges, like a high crime rate, poverty and little faith in the police or society in general. But calling them ”no-go zones" paints an unfair image," he added. “And police do visit these neighbourhoods whenever necessary.” [Vice, 11/2/16]