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Greta Thunberg apologizes for "against the wall" comment

Greta Thunberg named Time Person of the Year
Greta Thunberg named Time Person of the Year 00:59

Greta Thunberg apologized on Saturday for a comment that some interpreted as a threat of violence against politicians who ignore climate change. Thunberg said she was merely translating a Swedish expression into English and apologized for the way her comments may have come off.

"Yesterday I said we must hold our leaders accountable and unfortunately said 'put them against the wall,'" the 16-year-old climate activist tweeted on Saturday. "That's Swenglish: 'att ställa någon mot väggen' (to put someone against the wall) means to hold someone accountable."

"That's what happens when you improvise speeches in a second language," the Swede continued. "But of course I apologize 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."

The expression in English is often a euphemism for executions. It refers to putting someone in front of wall before they are killed by a firing squad.

Thunberg, who was recently named Time's Person of the Year for 2019, made the comments during a speech in Italy on Friday while talking about world leaders who aren't helping to fight climate change.

"We have to make sure that they cannot do that," she said. "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 has gotten under the skin of several world leaders, including United States President Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Mr. Trump tweeted earlier this week that Thunberg "must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!" 

Former first lady Michelle Obama, meanwhile, tweeted a message of support to Thunberg, writing "don't let anyone dim your light." 

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