Sweden’s deputy prime minister walked back her labeling of the 9/11 attacks as “accidents” in her defense of a politician who resigned over his anti-Israel rhetoric.
Asa Romson, who is also agriculture minister, on Tuesday told the Aftonbladet daily newspaper that she misspoke a day earlier during an interview with the SVT broadcaster about the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington by the al-Qaida terrorist group. The attacks killed more than 3,000 people.
“Obviously, the attack on New York on Sept. 11, 2001 was one of the biggest attacks and acts of terror and atrocities against the peaceful and democratic world that we have seen in modern times. I don’t dispute that,” Romson told Aftonbladet. “The accident is that we got a very harsh debate on integration and on societal development with different religions side by side and subsequent discrimination.”
Romson earlier was defending the work of Mehmet Kaplan, Sweden’s Turkish-born former housing minister, with Muslim youths in the early 2000s. Kaplan, a member of Romson’s Green Party, resigned Monday following the surfacing of a video from 2009 in which he is seen saying at a rally against racism that there are similarities between the persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany during the 1930s and the everyday lives of Palestinians.
Last year, Romson apologized for comparing the deaths of migrants from the Middle East en route to Europe to the industrialized extermination of Jews at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz in southern Poland.
“We are in Europe turning the Mediterranean into the new Auschwitz,” she said during a televised debate. She walked back that comment, which she described as “ill-conceived,” after politicians and Jewish community leaders accused her of abusing the memory of Holocaust victims.