In the photographs leaked to the media, taken in 2015, he’s seen sitting at the same table as extremist Barbaros Leylani and Ilhan Senturk, the president of the Swedish branch of the Grey Wolves. Barbaros Leylani was last week kicked out of Turkish National Association of Sweden after calling for the death of “Armenian dogs” at a Stockholm rally last week.
Mehmet Kaplan defended himself in a press release his participation at the dinner, which was organized by Tumsiad Sweden, a network of entrepreneurs of Turkish origin, to celebrate Iftar, the evening meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan. He says he also had been unaware that a person from the Grey Wolves was a guest at the dinner party. This even though he clearly wasn’t seated far away from Ilhan Senturk.
“We know each other”
Both Barbaros Leylani and Ilhan Senturk confirms to media that they were at dinner, and that they are familiar with the Minister of Housing.
– We know each other, not 100 percent, but I know who he is and he knows who I am. I do not think he likes our organization, Ilhan Senturk told the about Kaplan.
Leylani says he has not talked with Mehmet Kaplan during the dinner.
– I knew him well before he became minister, but now we have no close contact, he says.
Kaplan has since been heavily criticized by members of the parliament, as well as from others. Speaking through a press officer, he accused the Swedish media of “low journalism”.
This isn’t the first time the politician has been under fire.
2014: Kaplan compared Swedish jihadists in Syria to Swedish freedom fighters in Finland during WW2.
2014: During a rally, Kaplan said Palestine had been occupied for 66 years. Meaning since the state of Israel was founded. Later, he’s said what he meant was the Six-Day War in 1967.
2011: Kaplan invited the anti-Semite Yvonne Ridley to a conference at the parliament.
2010: Kaplan was arrested by Israeli forces after they in international waters, boarded cargo ships that “Ship to Gaza” used to try to break the blockade. Critics argue that the co-organizers of “Ship to Gaza” can be linked to anti-Semites.
2009: During a discussion about Islamophobia, Kaplan compares Israel actions against the Palestinians, to what the Nazis did during WW2. Something that might be considered anti-Semitic.