Outrage after Trump retweets posts from convicted British far-right extremist

Outrage after Trump retweets posts from convicted British far-right extremist
Twitter has been flooded with outrage after US President Donald Trump reposted Islamophobic videos from Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First. Many accused Trump of promoting far-right extremism and supporting anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The three videos are captioned as follows: ‘VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!’ ‘VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!’, ‘VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!’. The content of the videos or their origin could not be independently verified.

Most on social media assumed at first Trump had been hacked. He had not, however, and Britain First was thrilled with the endorsement. Britain First’s leader, Paul Golding, tweeted: “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 [Onward Christian Soldiers].”

Meanwhile, Fransen tweeted: “Donald Trump retweets hate messages from Britain First deputy leader.”

Britain First leader Paul Golding has asked Trump for “help.” He said Fransen “is facing prison for criticism of Islam … she needs your help!” He called MPs asking for Trump’s state visit to be cancelled “morons.”

Others were concerned with Trump’s response. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Britain first is a vile, hate-fuelled organisation whose views should be condemned, not amplified.” 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on the government to condemn the tweets, calling them “abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society.”

Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron tweeted: “So the finger that retweeted a British fascist, is the same finger on the nuclear button. Happy days!”

Piers Morgan, who has been a supporter of Trump in the past, tweeted:“Good morning Mr President - 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 re-tweets.”

Labour MP David Lammy raised concerns about Trump “promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been convicted.” He tweeted: “Trump sharing Britain First. Let that sink in … [Trump] is no ally or friend of ours. @RealDonaldTrump you are not welcome in my country and my city.”

Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, said: “The President of the US has just retweeted a convicted British fascist.” She added that Prime Minister Theresa May must publicly condemn him immediately. “We cannot stand by and watch Donald Trump spew this hate.”

Labour MP Naz Shah tweeted “No surprises there then!” while Welsh Labour politician Stephen Doughty raised a point of order in the House of Commons on Wednesday about the “shocking Trump tweets.” He added on Twitter: “V serious concerns given content AND ongoing criminal proceedings. Serious questions too for @Twitter to answer.” Speaker of the House John Bercow invited Home Secretary Amber Rudd to answer. She did not do so.

British campaign group Stand Up To Trump responded by saying May should withdraw her invitation to the US President for a state visit. “Jayda Smith is a convicted Islamophobe and racist, who is the spokesperson for Britain First. When far-right terrorist Thomas Mair murdered British MP Jo Cox he shouted Britain First,” spokesperson Maz Saleem said in a statement.

“For Trump to retweet several Islamophobic racist tweets from her account speaks volumes about why we need to stand up to the President of racism, Islamophobia and bigotry named Trump, and why he is not welcome here. If he comes to Britain, we will protest in our thousands against his bigoted agenda.”

The Muslim Council of Britain said in a statement: “This is the clearest endorsement yet from the US President of the far-right and their vile anti-Muslim propaganda. We cannot give bigotry a free pass.

“We hope our Prime Minister and Home Secretary will distance the UK from Mr Trump and his comments, and will reiterate the government’s abhorrence to all forms of extremism.”

United Against Fascism’s joint secretary Weyman Bennett, said Trump must be condemned for the “deplorable” shares. “It beggars belief that the most powerful person in the world is retweeting Ms Fransen’s vile views,” he added. "Britain First rubbed shoulders with fascists in the large, far right demonstration in #Warsaw, just weeks ago. They are a poisonous organization.”

Brendan Cox, the husband of late MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by a far-right extremist, said Trump has legitimized the far right in his own country, “now he’s trying to do it in ours.” Cox added: “Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself.”

Earlier this month, Fransen was found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment after she verbally abused a Muslim woman for wearing a hijab. Twitter user Matthew Gertz tweeted: “This is the person Trump just retweeted three times” alongside a news story that said Fransen hurled abuse at the woman in front of her young children.

Trump has long been criticized for anti-Muslim rhetoric. In December 2015, he called for a ban on Muslims entering the US. He previously suggested the creation of a government database to track Muslim Americans and made false claims that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He also tweeted in 2015 about what he called the UK’s “massive Muslim problem.” Since taking office, Trump has shown more restraint in his rhetoric and boasted about his reception at a summit in Saudi Arabia.