UK

Donald Trump Retweets Three Inflammatory Anti-Islam Posts By Britain First Deputy Leader Jayda Fransen

'Today shows us how far extremism has moved mainstream.'

29/11/2017 11:56 GMT | Updated 29/11/2017 17:42 GMT

UPDATE: Theresa May condemns Donald Trump directly for the first time after the President retweets video propaganda of the UK’s far-right.

Donald Trump has appeared to endorse Britain First by retweeting three inflammatory anti-Islam videos from the far right group’s Deputy Leader Jayda Fransen.

Only last week Fransen was charged with using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” during a speech made at a “Northern Ireland Against Terrorism” rally at Belfast City Hall in August.

She and Paul Golding, the leader of Britain First, were charged in September with causing religiously aggravated harassment for posting videos online during a gang rape trial. 

Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Fransen (C) with Britain First leader Paul Golding (L).

And last year she was found guilty of the same charge for verbally abusing a Muslim woman in front of her children.

But despite being in existence for six years, Fransen and Britain First have consistently failed to make any political impact in the UK gaining only one per cent of the vote in the London Mayoral election and still only managing to muster around 50 supporters to a march.

The videos claimed to show various violent crimes committed by Muslims. Britain First is widely known for spreading Islamophobic and racist videos, including many proven to be fake.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Britain first is a vile, hate-fuelled organisation whose views should be condemned, not amplified.”

One of the videos retweeted by Trump carries a caption which read “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”.

Twitter
One of the videos shared by Fransen claimed to show a Muslim migrant

The clip bears the logo of Dutch video sharing website Dumpert, which hosts user-uploaded content, much like YouTube.

One of the themes of content on the site focusses on the behaviour of adolescents. Many videos show children fighting in schools.

According to an article on Telegraaf.nl, the parent company of Dumpert, a 16-year-old was arrested following the video which was filmed in the town of Monnickendam, in the Dutch province of North Holland.

The video’s original caption did not mention the race of either of those in depicted, according to Telegraaf and it was subsequently taken down from at the request of police and the victim.

The legitimacy of two other videos that Trump retweeted have not yet been verified and Fransen has been called out multiple times for stoking anti-Muslim sentiment by misrepresenting the providence of videos.

One seems to show a man destroying a Virgin Mary statue, and the other shows a group of men, including one who appears to wear the flag of the self-described Islamic State, throwing another man off a roof. 

A clip tweeted in August which she said showed “Migrants In Spain Attack Tourists And Locals!” actually shows UK rapper, MoStack, defending himself with a broom as someone tries to attack him with a knife in July.

Britain First’s list of inflammatory actions includes burying a pig on the site of a proposed mosque, and advocating banning Islam in the UK following the November 2015 Paris terror attacks:

HuffPost reported last year that Britain First, who seek to “restore Christianity as the bedrock and foundation of our national life”, had been denounced by every single Christian denomination in the UK.

The group describe themselves as “a patriotic political party and street movement that opposes and fights the many injustices that are routinely inflicted on the British people.”

“We want our people to come first, before foreigners, asylum seekers or migrants and we are overtly proud of this stance,” the group says in its mission statement. “We want British jobs for British workers and will make sure that our workers come first.” 

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An image from one of the videos retweeted by Donald Trump appears to show a man destroying a Virgin Mary statue

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 such 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.”

Labour’s David Lammy said Trump was “not welcome in my country and my city”.

The row spread to the Commons during PMQs when Home Secretary Amber Rudd did not immediately respond after Labour MPs Stephen Doughty and Yvette Cooper raised the retweets as a point of order.

Doughty said the videos were “highly inflammatory” and Cooper said the president had given Fransen a “huge platform” as one MP shouted “Disgraceful” and others said “Go on, stand up” at Rudd. 

A spokesperson for Hope Not Hate told HuffPost UK: “Even by Donald Trump’s standards this is pretty incredulous - Britain First is one of the most notorious groups in the UK who promote hatred disguised with a thin veneer of Christianity.

″[The group’s] calling card is sowing division, discord and hatred. Surely someone among his advisors could tell him this is a far-right group?” 

But Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended his actions.

“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real. His goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security,” she said.

David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, praised the President’s social media strategy. 

Even an editor of Infowars, an alt-right conspiracy website, thought it was a bad idea.

Without a hint of irony Trump followed up the three retweets by tweeting about “fake news CNN”.

Anti-extremism hotline, Tell Mama, said: “We are utterly appalled that the President of the United States would retweet Jayda Fransen of far-right group Britain First.

“Today shows us how far extremism has moved mainstream.”

Reaction to the retweets sparked a mixture of disgust, bafflement and outright condemnation.

Brendan Cox, whose MP wife Jo was murdered by a far right extremist last year, accused Trump of legitimising the far right in the US, and now in the U.K.

Britain First appeared thrilled at the development and Fransen later tweeted a picture of herself being interviewed by American broadcaster, CBS.