Trump rebukes UK Prime Minister: “Don’t focus on me”
Developments on Day 314 of the Trump Administration:
Trump “Is Promoting a Fascist, Racist, Extremist Hate Group”
Setting aside a renewed North Korean crisis and the GOP push for tax cuts, Donald Trump allies himself with the hatred and Islamophobia of a far-right British group.
Trump started his latest Twitter furor by retweeting three anti-Muslim videos from Jayda Fransen, a leader of Britain First, on Wednesday morning. The videos, taken out of context and falsely identifying participants as Muslim, portray “Islam” as a threat to all Christians through violence and desecration.
Trump found the first video through a retweet by the hard-right US agitator Ann Coulter, one of the few dozen accounts he follows of Twitter. However, he — or a member of his staff — then went through Fransen’s account to discover the other two clips.
Trump’s promotion of Britain First and Fransen — convicted in 2016 of religiously-aggravated harassment and now on bail over another charge of the crime — brought a heated reaction from British social media users, groups, and MPs. David Lammy MP tweeted:
Trump sharing Britain First. Let that sink in. The President of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted. He is no ally or friend of ours. @realDonaldTrump you are not welcome in my country and my city.
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) November 29, 2017
Brendan Cox, whose wife Jo Cox MP was murdered in June 2016 by a man shouting “Britain First”, wrote:
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.
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) November 29, 2017
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
— Justin Welby ن (@JustinWelby) November 29, 2017
Sajid Javid, a Government minister, expressed his anger: “So POTUS has endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing.”
A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May, who is on a tour of the Middle East, then issued a statement:
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. 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.
But far from backing down — or even staying silent — Trump fired back. After sending his response to the wrong “Theresa May”, he finally replied to the Prime Minister:
.@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
Meanwhile, Jayda Fransen — who earned only 56 votes in a 2014 by-election and whose Britain First only has a few dozen participants in its marches — celebrated:
Thanks for the retweets @realDonaldTrump. I’m facing prison for criticising Islam. Britain is now Sharia compliant, I need your help!”