Theresa May condemns Donald Trump’s sharing of anti-Muslim videos
US president retweets videos by Britain First group purporting to show Muslims committing crimes
US president Donald Trump shouts at journalists from across the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday as he leaves for St Charles, Missouri, to address a rally. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Jayda Fransen of the far-right a organisation Britain First, marching in central London on April 1st last. Photograph: Daniel Leal Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
One video purports to show Muslims pushing a child off a roof, another a Muslim man destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary and a third a Muslim migrant assaulting a boy on crutches.
One of the videos had been posted by conservative commentator Ann Coulter on Tuesday evening. The authenticity of the videos has not been verified.
In a statement, Ms May’s spokesman said Mr Trump was “wrong” to have retweeted the videos.
“Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people,” the statement said.
“British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance and respect. It is wrong for the president to have done this.”
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, DONALD TRUMP, HAS RETWEETED THREE OF DEPUTY LEADER JAYDA FRANSEN'S TWITTER VIDEOS! DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS! GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA! OCS @JaydaBF @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/BiQfQkTra9— Jayda Fransen (@JaydaBF) November 29, 2017
The intervention by the British prime minister underscored the seriousness of the issue, with Muslim groups and civil liberty organisations in Britain and the United States condemning Mr Trump’s apparent endorsement of videos by a far-right party.
But the White House dismissed the matter, including the question of the veracity of the videos. “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real,” the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “[Mr Trump’s] goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security.”
The retweeted content was flagged as sensitive by Twitter on Mr Trump’s home page.
Ms Fransen, who is due to appear before Belfast magistrate’s court next month after being charged with using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” during speeches she delivered in Belfast, welcomed Mr Trump’s apparent endorsement.
Noting that the president of the United States had retweeted the videos, she tweeted in capital letters: “THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, DONALD TRUMP, HAS RETWEETED THREE OF DEPUTY LEADER JAYDA FRANSEN’S TWITTER VIDEOS! DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS! GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA!”
Britain First was founded in 2011 and grew out of the now-defunct British National Party (BNP). It is a self-styled nationalist party that purports to defend Britain’s Christian heritage, and fights against the “Islamification” of Britain.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna called for Mr Trump’s invitation to visit Britain to be withdrawn, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Trump’s retweets were “abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society”. Mr Trump is expected to visit Britain early next year.
It is not the first time the US president has posted incendiary material on Twitter relating to Muslims in Britain. He tweeted about Britain’s “massive Muslim problem” in 2015.
Earlier this year he engaged in a Twitter spat with London mayor Sadiq Khan, who is Muslim, tweeting after the London terror attack in June: “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’”
Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered British MP Jo Cox, condemned the president’s actions, tweeting: “Trump has legitimised 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.”
Mr Trump, made no comment on the controversy when asked about it by reporters as he left Washington to attend a rally in Missouri on tax reform.
His incendiary retweets came less than 48 hours after he referred to Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas at an event to honour Native Americans at the White House.