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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman November 21, 2017

Fake news: Civil war erupts in Sweden

The Swedes are fed up with the "Muslim invasion" in their country and have fought back with fire, according to a news account on Facebook.

"Civil war erupts in Sweden as irate Swedes burn nine Muslim refugee centers to the ground," states the headline in Pipo News, which linked to a similar 2015 article in JewsNews, a fake news website. We found no contact information on the Pipo News website.

Facebook users flagged the post as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social network’s efforts to combat fake news. The story and the photo are misleading. However, Muslim refugees have been the targets of suspected arson attacks in Sweden in recent years.

Pipo News states that the multiple arsons have been at facilities that house or are slated to house immigrants.

But the photo is actually a of a fire of a recycling station in Malmo Sweden in 2013, our fact-checking friends at Snopes noted in 2015.

Pipo News cites arson incidents at a children’s summer camp in the Swedish town of Eskilstuna that planned to host asylum seekers and in a refugee center in the town of Munkedal.

Fires did occur in those two towns, according to credible news articles.

On Christmas Day in 2014, five people were injured in a fire in a mosque in Eskilstuna, near Stockholm, which the authorities also suspect may have been arson, the New York Times reported. (Nothing in the New York Times stated that the site was a children’s camp.)

Reuters reported in November 2015 that in the town of Munkedal, a center housing 14 asylum seekers went up in flames.

"The Munkedal blaze was just one of more than a dozen at centers across Sweden in the past month -- some confirmed as arson attacks and others suspected as such -- that the police are struggling to solve as the country expects to take in up to a record 190,000 asylum seekers this year," Reuters reported.

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The fires occurred while a far-right anti-immigrant party, the Sweden Democrats, was gaining more traction, the New York Times wrote in 2015. Sweden had previously been known as a welcoming country for refugees, but that philosophy was tested as an influx of refugees strained government services.

Omar Mustafa, president of the Islamic Association of Sweden, told the New York Times in January 2015 that the fires at mosques followed a year of rising anti-Islamic attacks which included vandalism of mosques.

''It is a scary development in Swedish society,'' Mustafa said. ''It is a big movement that is moving from the Internet to the real world.''

Suspected arson incidents have continued in 2017 at Sweden's largest Shiite Muslim mosque and a mosque near Stockholm.

While the Pipo News article gives the impression that Muslim immigration has led to civil war, Reuters reported in 2015 that opinion polls showed most Swedes supported welcoming refugees.

Pew Research Center surveyed European views of refugees in 2016 and found that in Sweden 57 percent were concerned that refugees would increase terrorism in their country, slightly above the median among the 10 countries surveyed.

But of the 10 countries, Sweden had the lowest percentage that viewed refugees from Syria and Iraq as a major threat.

Our ruling

Pipo News’ headline states "civil war erupts in Sweden as irate Swedes burn nine Muslim refugee centers to the ground."

The story uses a misleading photo of an unrelated fire and portrays the situation in Sweden as a war, which is a gross exaggeration. There have been multiple fires at Muslim sites, but there is no evidence that a civil war has erupted as nine Muslim refugee centers burned to the ground.

We rate this headline as False.

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"Civil war erupts in Sweden as irate Swedes burn nine Muslim refugee centers to the ground"
In a blog post
Saturday, November 11, 2017

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