Sweden hits out at ‘disinformation’ on child kidnappings

Feb 2, 2023, 12:26 PM | Updated: Feb 3, 2023, 4:27 am

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Swedish government again sought Friday to discredit claims that Swedish social service agencies kidnap Muslim children, saying Sweden was again seeing a “systematized” and “extensive” disinformation campaign.

“This campaign has now gained momentum again,” said Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

“This is false. This is not true. Sweden does not kidnap children. The social services do not kidnap children,” Kristersson told a press conference. “Neither Muslim nor other children.”

He said that social workers and other employees are being “exposed on social media and are being threatened.”

He said the government will post guards inside social services offices and will earmark more funds to the Swedish Psychological Defense Agency, which was established to counter misinformation, to help it tackle the “systematized” campaign against Sweden.” He didn’t say how much money would be given to the agency.

The statement came at time of tensions with mostly Muslim Turkey over the applications of Sweden and Finland to become NATO members.

Turkey is angry that Sweden has allowed anti-Turkish protests to take place, and particularly that it has not prevented an anti-Muslim activist from repeatedly burning the Quran, the Muslim holy book. It also thinks that Sweden is not doing enough to counter Kurdish activists that it considers terrorists. Unless its demands are met, it says it won’t approve Sweden’s NATO application, which must be accepted by all of the miliary alliance’s 30 members.

Kristersson said the disinformation campaign over child kidnappings started in 2021. The Psychological Defense Agency said last year that the allegations could be traced to an Arabic-language site whose creator expressed support for the Islamic State group.

In February 2022, the Swedish Foreign Ministry said that “all children in Sweden are protected and cared for equally under Swedish legislation” and that social workers need a court order to remove children from their parents without consent.

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Sweden hits out at ‘disinformation’ on child kidnappings