Green Party MP Mehmet Kaplan. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT
A Green Party MP has caused a stir after likening Swedish jihadists in Syria to Swedish freedom fighters in Finland during World War Two.
The comments came on Tuesday during a seminar in Almedalen about Islamophobia. On hand were Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag and Green Party MP Mehmet Kaplan, who is the former spokesman for the Muslim Council of Sweden.
While the talk was mostly about Islamophobia, matters took a turn when the integration minister said that there was a problem with young Muslims heading to Syria to be jihadists, according to political scientist Stefan Olsson, who was on the scene
Ullenhag's comment prompted a reaction from Kaplan, who said the jihadists were nothing to worry about and were similar to Swedish freedom fighters who joined the Finns in World War Two to fight the Soviets.
The blog entry made a splash on Swedish social media, eventually prompting Kaplan to take to Twitter to say he'd been "misunderstood".
"That's typical political speak," David Linden, editorial columnist for the Borås Tidning newspaper, told The Local on Thursday.
"He tried to put a spin on it, but he didn't deny it."
"This isn't only preposterous, it's also a very, very strange and twisted view of history. Those who went to Finland weren't there for religious or political reasons, they were counts, they were Social Democrat workers. Many of them were there because the governing Social Democrats had encouraged people to help."
"Sweden is too forgiving to extremists," he added. "Think how strange it would be if Sweden's Catholics were so forgiving to the IRA - I mean, there's a case to also say they were freedom fighters."
The Local's efforts to reach Kaplan have so far been unanswered.