(JTA) — Sweden’s deputy prime minister, who called the 9/11 attacks “accidents” and described the migrant crisis in Europe as “the new Auschwitz,” is leaving the government.
Asa Romson confirmed on Monday afternoon that she would step down after her Green Party made moves to replace her, the English-language news website for Swedish news, The Local.se, reported. She also served as agriculture minister in the government coalition in which Green is a junior partner.
On April 18, Romson made the “accidents” remark in an interview with the SVT broadcaster. The 2001 attacks in New York and Washington by the al-Qaida terrorist group killed more than 3,000 people.
She walked back her comments the next day.
“Obviously, the attack on New York on Sept. 11, 2001, was one of the biggest attacks and acts of terror and atrocities against the peaceful and democratic world that we have seen in modern times. I don’t dispute that,” Romson told Aftonbladet. “The accident is that we got a very harsh debate on integration and on societal development with different religions side by side and subsequent discrimination.”
Romson made the comments in defending the work of Mehmet Kaplan, Sweden’s Turkish-born former housing minister, with Muslim youths in the early 2000s. Kaplan, also a member of the Green Party, resigned after a 2009 video surfaced in which he said at a rally against racism that there are similarities between the persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany during the 1930s and the everyday lives of Palestinians.
Last year, Romson apologized for comparing the deaths of migrants from the Middle East en route to Europe to the industrialized extermination of Jews at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz in southern Poland.
“We are in Europe turning the Mediterranean into the new Auschwitz,” she said during a televised debate.
Romson also walked back that comment, which she described as “ill-conceived,” after politicians and Jewish community leaders accused her of abusing the memory of Holocaust victims.