Sweden’s Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan has been involved in anti-Israel activity in the past. In 2010, he participated in the Turkish-flagged flotilla to the Gaza Strip. When he attempted to land in Israel a few months later, he was denied entry over the incident.
Sweden’s Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan has resigned amid revelations that he compared Israel to Nazi Germany and had eaten dinner with the leader of a Turkish terror group, Radio Sweden reported Monday.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced that Kaplan had requested the resignation.
“The recent discussion stands in the way of his mission,” said Löfven on Monday, saying that Kaplan had made that assessment and he agreed.
At the press conference, Kaplan attempted to defend his offensive conduct.
“I reject all forms of extremism,” Radio Sweden quotes him as saying. “The green ideology stands for peace, diversity and global solidarity. These are my values. We have landed in a situation in which what I stand for is questioned.”
Kaplan said he intended to stay involved in Swedish politics.
Over the weekend Kaplan was exposed to a new bout of criticism when his anti-Semitism was exposed. The newspaper Svenska Dagbladet turned up a statement Kaplan had made in 2009, recorded on video, in which he claimed during a meeting that “Israelis treat Palestinians much in the same way as Jews were treated in Germany during the 1930s.”
The meeting, which concerned Islamophobia, was broadcast by a local TV station Somali Star TV.
Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, who has made several anti-Israel statements, told TT and Swedish Radio that she strongly distanced herself from Kaplan’s statement.
Kaplan has been involved in anti-Israel activity in the past. In 2010, he participated in the Turkish-flagged flotilla to the Gaza Strip. When he attempted to land in Israel a few months later, he was denied entry over the incident.
Earlier in the week, it was revealed that Kaplan, who is Turkish born, was at a celebration last summer that was also attended by the Swedish leader of the Turkish nationalist extremist group, the Grey Wolves. The news prompted Löfven to say that it was “to be deeply regretted” that the minister had been in their company.
On Swedish Television, Mona Sahlin, the government’s national coordinator against violent extremism, said of the recent revelations around Kaplan, “I think that this is extremely serious and has become even more serious.”
In a written statement to the Svenska Dagbladet, Kaplan expressed regret for his anti-Semitic statement, saying he had not wanted to escalate a conflict or diminish the persecution that Jews had been subject to by the Nazis during the Holocaust. “I showed, among other things, pictures of how Palestinian businesses had been closed and marked. My point was that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism can take extremely similar, nasty expressions,” he attempted to explain.
According to the the European Parliament’s working group against anti-Semitism, comparing Israel’s policy with the Nazis may be anti-Semitic, and Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Isaac Bachman, told SVD that Kaplan’s statement was outright anti-Semitism.