What happened "last night in Sweden"? Donald Trump spreads alternative facts at rally.

Source: AP
Source: AP

To be very clear, Sweden does not seem to have experienced any broad-scale horrors on Friday night. As such, many people are wondering: When President Donald Trump asked the crowd at his Saturday rally to recall recent terror attacks in the Nordic country, what the hell was he talking about?

Railing against the alleged danger posed by refugees, Trump said:

Here's the bottom line: We've got to keep our country safe. You look at what's happening — we've got to keep our country safe. You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?

Sweden, for one, did not believe the president's allegation. The country's Twitter account clarified that "Nothing has happened here in Sweden. There has not been any terrorist attacks here. At all." On Friday night, Swedish news centered around Melodifestivalen, a talent competition where, according to the Washington Post, one singer experienced technical difficulties. 

According to Trump, though, Sweden is "having problems like we never thought possible" after taking in "large numbers" of refugees. Indeed, as Foreign Policy reported in February 2016, Sweden expected to take in as many as 190,000 refugees. That number dropped off some after the country tightened its restrictions — but still has not translated to a massive terror strike against Sweden. 

Mentioning the country in the same breath as Brussels, Belgium, and Nice, France, cities that have seen violent attacks in the past year, Trump seemed to suggest that Sweden had seen similar events within the last 24 hours and the world somehow missed it. But, as Slate reported, it's possible that he heard Sweden discussed on Fox News and extrapolated from there.

On Friday, documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz stopped by Tucker Carlson Tonight to talk about crime rates and refugees in Sweden. "There was an absolute surge in both gun violence and rape in Sweden once they began this open-door policy," Horowitz, who made a documentary about Sweden and its refugees, told Carlson. He explained that, because the majority of Swedes with whom he spoke supported the policy, they were wont to "make excuses" for refugees committing crimes and to "cover up" the identities of perpetrators. The portrait Horowitz and Carlson painted was one of refugees living in luxury at the expense of Swedish safety. 

Source: YouTube

Carlson and Horowitz didn't speak to any specific terror attack, but considering Trump's predilection for TV news, it doesn't seem outlandish that the Fox segment was the seed from which "last night in Sweden" grew. The phrase quickly went viral. 


Of course, with Kellyanne Conway's "Bowling Green massacre" gaffe still fresh in the internet's mind, some Twitter users drew parallels between two made-up attacks. 

Here's what actually happened #LastNightInSweden: A president erroneously attempted to use one of the most peaceful countries in the world as an example of refugee policy gone awry, and the internet immortalized his mistake in many memes. 

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Claire Lampen

Claire is a staff writer at Mic who covers women's issues and reproductive rights. She is based in New York and can be reached at claire@mic.com.

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