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Greta Thunberg offers apology for controversial comments about world leaders, blames translation

'We will make sure that we put them against the wall...'

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images

Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg apologized on Saturday for controversial comments she made at a recent protest.

While speaking in Italy on Friday, Thunberg condemned the actions of world leaders who she believes are not adequately addressing climate change.

"World leaders are still trying to run away from their responsibilities but we have to make sure they cannot do that," Thunberg said. "We will make sure that we put them against the wall and they will have to do their job to protect our futures."

As CBS News reported:

The expression ["put them against the wall"] 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.

However, Thunberg said Saturday that her intent was not to communicate a threat against world leaders who do not capitulate to her climate change agenda. Rather, she was simply making a literal translation to English from her native language of Swedish.

"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," Thunberg wrote on Twitter.

"That's what happens when you improvise speeches in a second language," she continued. "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."

One last thing…
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