Sweden's ruling party, the Social Democrats, who have been in charge of the nation for the most part of the 20th century, have triggered public outrage as their Arabic Facebook page in Sävsjö was found to spread demonstrably false information about its major political rivals.
The false flag was revealed by Syrian-born journalist and activist Galaxia Elias, who published a translation of the now-deleted post, highlighted by writer and debater Rebecca Weidmo Uvell in her blog.
According to Galaxia Elias's translation, voters with immigrant backgrounds were warned of the alleged dangers posed by the "racist" right-wing parties, the Conservatives and the Sweden Democrats, and were urged to vote left.
In particular, the Conservatives and the Sweden Democrats, who have both been rising in the opinion polls while the Social Democrats appear to be heading to their worst election in decades, were claimed to be pushing to close all Islamic schools, mosques and cemeteries, ban halal slaughter, forbid the Islamic veil, take Muslim children away from their parents, limit financial assistance for the new arrivals and sow conflicts between Muslims and Swedes.
"We ask all Swedes and especially those with immigrant backgrounds to vote for the Social Democrats, the Left Party or at least the Green Party, as they are less harmful to immigrants and Muslims in particular," Social Democrats Sävsjö wrote, according to Elias.
According to the Nyheter Idag news outlet, the page was created and run by Samer Sad Mohialdeen, a 37-year-old teacher running for Sävsjö council.
The Conservatives reported the Social Democrats to the police.
"It is deeply worrying that a party conducts an election campaign based on lying, raising suspicions and smearing," Malin Wengholm, Conservative leader at Jönköping Council told the Expressen tabloid daily.
Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Åkesson argued that the Social Democrats' entire campaign was based on spreading disinformation.
"The Social Democrats are quick to blame others for fake news, but here they are completely shameless," Åkesson said, stressing that targeting the immigrant part of the population with various rumors, half-truths and downright lies was a scary practice.
Social Democrats press officer Håkan Gestrin admitted this was "completely unacceptable" and stressed that this type of behavior doesn't belong to Swedish election campaigns. Gestrin emphasized that the post was removed as soon as the party leadership was informed of it. The person responsible was immediately asked to withdraw his candidacy, Gestrin stressed in an interview with the tabloid daily Expressen.
Arabic has recently become Sweden's second-most popular language, surpassing Finnish, owing to a decade of immigration from the Middle East and North Africa. Traditionally, people with a foreign background have been leaning to the left-wing parties, although the percentage of immigrants sympathizing with the right-wing Sweden Democrats has increased to 12 percent, according to Statistics Sweden.