“This is not about freedom of speech, this is about insulting people’s faith. I cannot see anything that has to do with freedom of speech here.” — Mehmet Kaplan, on the Mohammed cartoon controversy, 2005.
Mehmet Kaplan told Turkish media that the reason young Muslims join ISIS is “the rampaging Islamophobia in Europe.” As a solution to the problem, he suggested that the Swedish government support mosques financially, ostensibly to counteract ISIS’s recruitment.
In 2014, three Muslims became ministers in the Swedish government. Clearly the most fervent and committed believer was Mehmet Kaplan, 44, who took on the role of Minister for Housing and Urban Development.
Kaplan came to Sweden from Turkey, at the age of one. Despite many claims that he is in fact an Islamist, until now Kaplan has been untouchable. That is, until it emerged that he said that Israel treats the Palestinians the same way the Nazis treated the Jews in Germany. At a hastily summoned press conference on April 18, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced that he had accepted Kaplan’s resignation.
Mehmet Kaplan was a minister in Sweden’s government until last week, when he was forced to resign after revelations that he compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to that of the German Nazis’ treatment of Jews. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Jan Ainali)
Kaplan, a member of the Green Party, has a history of being affiliated with various Muslim organizations connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2005, he denounced the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, for publishing cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed. In an interview with the Christian magazine Dagen, he said, “This is not about freedom of speech, this is about insulting people’s faith. I cannot see anything that has to do with freedom of speech here. This is an insupportable provocation.”
In 2010, Kaplan was aboard one of the ships of the flotilla sailing to the Gaza Strip, with the aim of breaking Israel’s naval blockade. He, along with several others, was arrested after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) boarded the vessel. Once safe and sound back in Sweden, he complained that the IDF “acted like pirates.”