Sweden’s newly appointed anti-terror coordinator attracted criticism yesterday after seeming to suggest Islamic terrorism is caused by the “white power movement”.
Hours after her appointment to the post of coordinator against violent extremism on Tuesday, Anna Carlstedt was asked why Sweden is the country which has the most jihadists per capita travelling to the Middle East to fight with extremist groups.
She told Swedish Radio: “I think there are several different types of hotbeds of extremism. What we see is that there is an interaction between them. It is true that Islamic extremism is growing, but this also results from the extreme right-wing white power movement.”
Asserting that “there is an interaction between these two movements because society is becoming more and more polarised”, Carlsted went on to link Islamist terror with Swedes who are unhappy with politicians in the country.
“[A]s I said earlier, we are seeing increased extremism and we see a lot of threats and hatred of elected representatives, officials and others. It is something that exists in Sweden and we see it in many other countries.”
“It is very important to take advantage of the good forces [‘civil society’] and not let fear and darkness win,” she added.
Against the backdrop of an Islamist terror attack having struck Berlin on Monday night, Swedes on social media were sceptical about the appointment of Carlstedt, who has no relevant experience in the fields of terrorism and extremism.
Svenska Dagbladet lead writer Ivar Arpi wrote: “New coordinator against violent extremism hinted recently in Studio One that the white power movement causes jihadists to travel to Syria. Crikey.”
Nya samordnaren mot våldsbejakande extremism antydde nyss i Studio Ett att vit makt-rörelsen gör att jihadister reser till Syrien. Jösses.
— Ivar Arpi (@Ivarpi) December 20, 2016
Referring to her appearance on Swedish Radio, another user directed a tweet at Carlstedt which joked, “the White Power movement must be enormous in Tunisia because so many go from there to the way of jihad”.
— Hensplaining (@akademihen) December 21, 2016
In an editorial for Svenska Dagbladet, Linda Nordlund casts doubt over the anti-extremism coordinator’s ability to do the job. She writes: “Success requires Carlstedt speak clearly. In all the interviews I’ve read, she describes the extremists as ‘left and right, all religions’. My confidence is zero if Carlstedt persists in not mentioning jihad by name.”