The Sweden election is fast approaching and with less than ten days to go the political campaigns have gotten heated in the Scandinavian country. Earlier this week a Facebook post in Arabic was written by members of the Social Democrats party, spreading false information about eurosceptic Sweden Democrats and the Moderate Party’s immigration policies.
By – Amalie Henden
In the Facebook post, members of the Social Democrats Party in Sävsjö, Sweden published a warning, urging immigrants and Muslims in particular against voting for “racist” right-wing parties – in an apparent veiled reference to Sweden Democrats and the Moderate Party.
The text was originally published in an official Social Democrats Facebook group which posts content in Arabic but it quickly spread to other groups, one with almost 70,000 members.
The original post was later deleted from the group, but the content of the post is still spreading online.
The Facebook post said: “We want to make it clear that there are racist parties on the rise in Sweden right now and they pose a great risk to us all.
“The forthcoming election is therefore considered crucial to many of us.”
Some of the accusations made against the two parties include that they will: Change laws that concern immigrants and especially Muslims, forbid Mosques and halal meat, make wearing a hijab illegal if you’re under the age of 18 and shut down all Islamic schools.
Other claims allege the parties will return a very high number of refugees to their home country and accuse parents of crimes in order to take Muslim children away from their parents.
In the Facebook post, it also said that all Swedes and especially those with a background from a different country should vote for the “Social Democrats, the Left Party or at least the Green Party as it is less harmful to immigrants and particularly Muslims”.
The post was discovered by Swedish journalist and public speaker Galaxia Elias after a friend sent her a message on WhatsApp.
At the time she received the message, the journalist did not know it was written by politicians from the Social Democrats Party, but she kept thinking about the post and decided to do some research.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, the journalist told she felt betrayed and shocked when she discovered the one behind the accusations was a local Social Democrats politician in the Sävsjö Municipality.
The most concerning thing about this post is that it target groups who mainly rely on getting their news from alternative sources in Arabic
Ms Elias, who grew up in Syria and speaks fluent Arabic said: “It was important to translate the Facebook post into Swedish so the majority of Swedes could understand what it said.
“The most concerning thing about this post is that it target groups who mainly rely on getting their news from alternative sources in Arabic.
“A lot of these people already live in segregation and to spread fear and false information to those who are already feeling disconnected to the society is very serious.”
She added: “Writing posts like these threaten their existence and relationship to our society.
“They read threats saying they will get returned to their home country and that children of Muslims will be taken away from their parents.
“This is playing on people’s feelings and biggest fears instead of providing them with accurate information and let them choose freely whom they want to vote for.”
Ms Elias has so far exposed three Social Democrats candidates herself, but after the news reached the Swedish media, two more have been exposed for taking part in spreading incorrect information.
The journalist told Express.co.uk: “I think there are a lot more people involved, but I can’t really say a number as I am not sure.”
Anders Ygeman, head of the Social Democrats in parliament confirmed “five individual party members” had been responsible for the “false accusations” and the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said those involved have “been recommended leaving the party”.
In the aftermath of the left-wing disaster, Swedish Prime Minister and leader of the Social Democrats Party, Stefan Löfven addressed the case, saying: “This is completely unacceptable.
“From what I know, the person who published this has left his candidacy and has been recommended leaving the party.
“This is not social democracy.”
Ms Elias, however, does not think the Prime Minister has done enough amid the falsehood his fellow politicians have spread.
The journalist said: “Making them withdraw their candidacy helps, but it is not good enough.”
Anders Edholm, deputy secretary-general of the Moderates Party said: “We have been preparing foreign powers trying to influence the Swedish election process. We would never have dreamt that the threat would have come from within the country and our main opponents.”
The Moderates are currently behind both the Sweden Democrats and Social Democrats and have recently slipped dramatically in the polls.
Anders Ygeman, head of the Social Democrats in parliament said in response to Mr Edholm’s comment that “he had blown the matter out of proportions.”
He said: “Comparing false accusations from five individual party members, none of them holding any form of senior position even at a local party level, to the form of organised electoral manipulation is utterly ridiculous.”
Leader for the Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Åkesson responded to the matter earlier this week.
He said: “This is scary. Reaching out to the immigration part of the populations with false information and half-truths is unacceptable.”
The Swedes will cast their votes on September 9, 2018.
This year’s election is said to be one of the most complicated Swedish elections ever with the Sweden Democrats gaining ground with their anti-immigration policies.
The Social Democrats are currently heading for their worst election results in history.
Read more: From 2018/08/29