President Trump has sparked outrage after retweeting several tweets portraying some allegedly Muslim violence, under the message that terrorism and Islamic radicalism should be everyone’s main focus. The videos were not only fake or uncontextualized, but they had been posted by a British far-right movement.In this article, VOX tackles the allegations and tweets published.
President Donald Trump spent part of his Wednesday morning retweeting three videos about alleged Islamist violence. One claimed to show a Muslim man destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary; another professed to have captured a “Muslim migrant” beating up a “Dutch boy on crutches,” and a third seemed to show Muslim men pushing a boy off a building.
There were two problems. First, at least one of the videos was fake; reports quickly emerged showing that the perpetrator in the video about the Dutch boy is apparently neither Muslim nor a migrant. The video of teens being pushed from a rooftop is apparently three and a half years old and took place in Egypt, during a spasm of violence following the ouster of then-Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. At least one of the perpetrators was executed for the crime. The third video’s source remains unverified.
.@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2017
The much more disturbing issue is that the videos had all been originally posted by Jayda Fransen, a leader of a far-right British political party called Britain First.
This isn’t the first time Trump has retweeted a fringe political group. In early 2016, he retweeted (and then deleted) a message from the now-suspended account @WhitegenocideTM, known for espousing openly racist, anti-Semitic, white supremacist views.
President Trump’s Target of Muslims
The president also has a track record of targeting Muslims. In 2015, he proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” During the 2016 presidential campaign he contemplated creating a database of Muslims in America. After becoming president, he instituted a ban on citizens from seven majority-Muslim nations entering the US. (The ban has been blocked by an array of federal courts.)
It may not be a total surprise, in other words, that Trump was retweeting videos posted by a fringe group known for its Islamophobia. That doesn’t make it any less worrisome.
Britain First was formed in 2011 by a breakaway group of extreme anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim activists who felt the far-right British National Party wasn’t far right enough.
Fransen’s Twitter account is filled with short videos depicting violence purportedly perpetrated by Muslims. She was convicted in 2016 of religiously aggravated harassment after she verbally abused a woman wearing a hijab.
Fransen appeared thrilled by the US president’s careful attention to her Twitter account. In all caps she tweeted small images of the retweets and alerted her followers to the news. “GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP!” she wrote, “GOD BLESS AMERICA!”
Leaders around the world condemned Trump. He doesn’t appear to care.
British and Muslim leaders were quick to condemn Trump’s choice to expand the megaphone of a known Islamophobe. “Britain First is a vile, hate-fuelled organisation whose views should be condemned, not amplified,” tweeted Sadiq Khan, mayor of London.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s Labour Party, also tweeted that Trump’s retweets were “abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society.”
In a statement issued from Downing Street on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said, “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.”
“It is wrong for the president to have done this,” she added in the statement.
Trump responded to May’s criticisms Wednesday night, first tweeting at the wrong “Theresa May” — a private account with six followers. He then deleted that tweet but apparently retained the view it was a good idea to feud with one of America’s closest allies, writing that the prime minister should focus “on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”
Just to be clear: Dutch press reports that perpetrator in video retweeted by @realDonaldTrump was neither muslim nor an immigrant. He was arrested for his crime. Moreover, the initial posting of the video did not mention religion. https://t.co/ku6tHeMviZ
— Erik Voeten (@ErikVoeten) November 29, 2017
May responded again on Thursday morning, this time verbally. “The fact that we work together does not mean that we’re afraid to say when we think the United States has got it wrong, and be very clear with them,” May told the press from Jordan, where she is currently traveling on State business.
“And I’m very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.”
But even after rebuking Trump -— twice — for spreading the anti-Islamic propaganda, May did not rescind his invitation for a formal state visit, expected in 2018. But some MPs ramped up calls for her to disinvite the American president. London’s mayor, Khan, explicitly said he “would not be welcomed.” Trump’s latest tweet is likely to strengthen their resolve.
The UK is home to more than 3 million Muslims. The president’s endorsement of a hate group notwithstanding, the message Britain First conveys has failed to find traction in the UK itself. The party has never had a win at the ballot box.
That, at least, is cause for cheer.