Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, apologized Saturday after telling a crowd of young supporters a day earlier — while speaking in English — that politicians should be put “against the wall.”
Critics alleged that the remark, delivered in Turin, Italy, meant she was advocating for violence against world leaders who dodge their responsibilities to fight climate change.
“We have to make sure that they cannot do that,” Thunberg told the crowd. “We will make sure they, that we put them against the wall, and that they will have to do their job and to protect our futures.”
Thunberg later explained she was making a literal translation from Swedish. She said the phrase in her native language means to hold people accountable, and clarified that her worldwide school strike movement ought to remain a peaceful protest on climate change.
… improvise speeches in a second language.
But of course I apologise if anyone misunderstood this. I can not enough express the fact that I – as well as the entire school strike movement- are against any possible form of violence. It goes without saying but I say it anyway.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 14, 2019
“Yesterday I said we must hold our leaders accountable and unfortunately said ‘put them against the wall’. That’s Swenglish: “att ställa någon mot väggen” (to put someone against the wall) means to hold someone accountable,” she tweeted.
“That’s what happens when you improvise speeches in a second language. But of course I apologise if anyone misunderstood this,” she continued. “I can not enough express the fact that I – as well as the entire school strike movement- are against any possible form of violence. It goes without saying but I say it anyway.”
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