A SWEDISH minister has been branded “ignorant” and “amateurish” after she suggested municipalities were expected to help integrate Islamic State fighters to the Scandinavian country.
Ms Kuhnke said: “First of all if there are suspicions of crimes, they need to be investigated. And any such crimes should be punished.
“But after that we need structures locally, such as social services, around our country to integrate them back into our democratic society.”
More than 300 people have travelled from Sweden to join extremist cults in the Middle East and an estimated 150 have since returned, according to Sweden’s security service (Säpo).
Appearing on television programme Agenda, Ms Kuhnke was also challenged on how many of the jihadi fighters had been de-radicalised upon their return to the European nation.
She said: “No one knows.”
She was then asked about how many people had been given support to integrate back into society, to which the government minister said: “About 10, 20, 30 people have been supported by our municipalities. That is too few.
“We must cooperate much better. Police, the social services and Säpo have to work together. There are many municipalities which don’t even know who is responsible.”
Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund hit out against the remarks, branding Ms Kuhnke’s comments “ignorant”.
Speaking to Expressen.se, he said: “The answers she gave were obviously wrong, she blamed authorities and municipalities, and seemed to want to free herself from responsibility.
Responding to the criticism of his minister, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said the suggestion that returning ISIS fighters were the responsibility of municipalities was wrong.
He said: “Terrorism is an extremely serious issue, it is about the security of citizens, therefore it is a clear national issue and a national responsibility, and a priority of the government.”
The Swedish PM also added he had every confidence in Ms Kuhnke as she herself has said some of the comments in the interview came across wrong.
At the time, Säpo chief Anders Thornberg outlined Islamic extremism as one of the greatest threats to national security.
In October 2016 it emerged one Swedish council had considered giving ISIS fighters state-financed driving licenses and housing grants as incentives to reintegrate into society.
At the time, Lund County’s municipal co-ordinator against violent extremism, Anna Sjostrand, said her region would deal with the returned radicals the same way they would deal with criminals attempting to reenter society.
Ms Sjostrand said: “When the subject first came up, we thought, ‘Oh God, how should we handle this?’ But we pretty quickly realised that we should deal with [people defecting from ISIS] in the same way [we deal with people defecting from criminal gangs].”