The day will come when we will no longer have to report on President Donald Trump’s problematic tweets.
Today, though, is not the day.
Once again, the president’s itchy twitter fingers have stirred up controversy.
This time the president has retweeted the deputy leader of a British far-right group’s anti-Muslim videos.
Another video was reportedly of a Muslim individual desecrating a Virgin Mary statue.
A third claimed to show a Muslim immigrant striking a Dutch boy on crutches, prompting a response from the U.S. Dutch embassy that stated the attack’s perpetrator was Dutch born and raised.
British Labor party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, called Trump’s tweets:
“Abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our country.”
Other parliament members demanded Trump’s upcoming state visit be cancelled.
“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.”
Britain First is a minor anti-Islam party with around 1,000 followers.
The party’s deputy leader Jaydan Fransen is due to appear in a Belfast, Ireland court next month to answer a charge of using threatening or abusive language at an appearance at a far-right rally this past summer.
Britain First supporter, Thomas Mair, was reportedly behind the murder of Member of Parliament Jo Cox one week before the EU referendum last year.
“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.”
He told CNN:
“I think we probably got used to a degree of absurdity, of outrageous retweets and tweets from the president, but I think this felt like it was a different order. Here he was retweeting a felon, somebody who was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment, of an organisation that is a hate-driven organisation on the extreme fringes of the far, far right of British politics. This is like the president retweeting the Ku Klux Klan.”
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, characterized Trump’s tweets as “deeply disturbing.” He urged the president to make a statement “to make clear his opposition to racism and hatred in all forms.”
But all the attention has only emboldened Fransen, who tweeted:
“Thanks for the retweets @realDonaldTrump. I’m facing prison for criticising Islam. Britain is now Sharia compliant, I need your help!”
This gained Fransen an additional 10,000 Twitter followers.
White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was unapologetic, telling reporters:
“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real. [Trump’s] goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security. The threat is real, the threat needs to be addressed and the threat has to be talked about and that’s what the president is doing in bringing that up.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May was not so dismissive, however.
On Wednesday, May’s spokesman 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. 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.”
This, in turn, prompted a tit-for-tat response from Trump, who at first tweeted to the wrong Twitter handle:
“Theresa@theresamay, 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!”
He deleted that post minutes later, and followed it with a message to the correct handle.
Sajid Javid, the local government secretary, tweeted:
“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.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan issued a public statement urging Prime Minister May to publicly condemn Trump.
Trump ally, United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader, Nigel Farage, even agrees Trump crossed a line:
“I do think these videos are very bad taste and he showed poor judgment. Of that I have no doubt at all.”
British ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, has approached the White House with Prime Minister May’s concerns.
May is expected to speak about the matter today.
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