Martin Strid, of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD), made the comments while addressing party faithful gathered for the SD’s national conference. Other members have distanced themselves from Strid who now faces expulsion.
Addressing the crowd, Strid, according to various local sources said that there is a scale of humanity from 1 to 100, that Muslims can be placed upon and that not all are 100 percent human.
“On one end of the scale you are 100 percent human, a person, everything that’s part of that concept. At the other end, you are 100 percent Mohammedan,” he said. He continued, saying that “all Muslims are somewhere on that scale” with ISIS militants “close to being 100 percent Mohammedan.”
Though he wasn’t finished: “If you are an ex-Muslim you have come quite far towards being fully human” while also stating that he wanted to “free Muslims from Islam, the goal is for them to join SD instead.”
Strid’s inflammatory speech was recorded by Swedish broadcaster SVT and was shared online, in one instance by the group “Inte rasist, men” (Not racist, but) whose mission is to “showcase the inexhaustible source of humor and horror that the Sweden Democrats stand for.”
SD members distanced themselves from Strid’s comments, with party secretary Richard Jomshof, branding them “racist” and that he expected Strid to be expelled from the SD. Party leader, Jimmie Åkesson, echoed these sentiments, saying in an interview with SVT that Strid’s comments “may be the worst I have ever heard in such a context” and that it is “very close to racism.”
For his part, Strid apologised for his remarks. “It was very unfortunate and I expressed myself very clumsily,” the Local reports him as saying in an interview with news agency TT, he further said that he was aware his speech could be interpreted as saying Muslims are not 100 percent human.
“I have realised [this] and it’s very unfortunate. I know a lot of Muslims and am good friends with a lot. People are people, of course,” he said.
Mr Strid’s party colleagues immediately denounced his comments, with its secretary Richard Jomshof saying the statement amounted to “racism”.
“Everyone has fundamental human worth, the same for everyone. If you think that someone has a worse value based on a certain skin colour or the community they are part of, that is racism for me. We will not accept that,” Mr Jomshof said
Mr Strid tried to explain himself by saying Isis members were “close to being 100 per cent Mohammedan” but added that “all Muslims are somewhere on that scale”.
The local politician from the town of Borlänge added: “If you are an ex-Muslim you have come quite far towards being fully human.” He was speaking at the party’s national conference in Norrköping, Östergötland in the south east of Sweden.
SD board member and MP Aron Emilsson later officially distanced the party from Mr Strid.
“It is a statement we, from the party leadership, take a clear distance from. Categorising people and human values based on what religious beliefs you have is a way we cannot argue,” it said, according to a report by SVT. “It is contrary to our basic view of human dignity.”
Mr Emilsson’s statement did not call for Mr Strid to step down, only saying his comments “will certainly be handled in some way”.
Mr Strid later apologised for his statement after a barrage of criticism.
Sweden is set to go the polls in a general election scheduled for September next year, with Sweden Democrats recently becoming the most popular party in the country, according to one poll.
A YouGov survey in March found nearly a quarter – 23.9 per cent – of people said they would vote for the party if an election was held then.