U.S. President Donald Trump retweeted three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos posted by a British far-right group early Wednesday.
The videos were posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the group Britain First, who claims the men in each are Muslim.
Later in the day, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman criticized Trump’s move, saying he was wrong to share the anti-Muslim videos tweeted by a U.K. far-right leader.
May’s spokesman, James Slack, said Britain First seeks to divide communities through its use of “hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions.” He said “it is wrong for the president to have done this.”
But May’s office said an invitation for Trump to pay a state visit to Britain was not being withdrawn. Opposition politicians are calling for the visit to be canceled after the far-right retweets.
The first video shows a man knocking down another man on crutches. The second shows a man destroying a statue of Virgin Mary. A third shows a group of men dressed in black, likely Daesh militants, beating a man and pushing him off a roof.
“Donald Trump himself has retweeted these videos and has around 44 million followers! God bless you Trump!” Britain First wrote in a post. Its account has about 24,000 followers.
Fransen, the deputy leader of the group, has been charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment through leaflets and videos that were distributed during a criminal trial earlier this year. She has separately been charged with using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior” in a speech she made in Northern Ireland in August. She is currently free on bail.
She was convicted last year of religiously aggravated harassment and fined after hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab.
Britain First was founded by far-right British National Party (BNP) in 2011. Fransen and the fringe group’s head were arrested in September and charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment over the distribution of leaflets and posting online videos during the court trial involving the case of a number of Muslim men accused and later convicted of rape.
Trump’s retweets were condemned by Brendan Cox, whose lawmaker wife Jo Cox was murdered last year by an attacker with far-right views.
Cox tweeted: “Trump has legitimized the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself.”
Trump’s tweets were also condemned by TV host Piers Morgan, who tweeted: “Good morning, Mr President @realDonaldTrump – what the hell are you doing retweeting a bunch of unverified videos by Britain First, a bunch of disgustingly racist far-right extremists? Please STOP this madness & undo your retweets.”
As a candidate, Trump called for “a Muslim ban” and, as president, has issued executive orders banning entry from some citizens of multiple countries, although courts have partially blocked them from taking effect.
Trump’s tweets came two days after he mocked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” during an Oval Office event with Native American veterans, drawing criticism from of Native American war veterans and politicians of both major parties.
It’s not the first time Trump has retweeted inflammatory content or posts from controversial Twitter accounts. He has shared messages from accounts that appeared to have ties to white nationalist groups. He has retweeted a conservative Trump supporter who used social media to draw attention to “pizzagate,” an unfounded conspiracy theory that claims Democrats harbored child sex slaves at a pizza restaurant. He has also retweeted doctored videos, including one that appeared to show him hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump offered anti-Muslim commentary, saying he would “strongly consider” closing mosques and insisting that “Islam hates us.” As president he has sought to ban travel from majority-Muslim countries. He said earlier this year that “we have to stop radical Islamic terrorism.”
Source: Daily Sabah