Reactions pour in following Trump's anti-Islamic retweets
President Trump's online endorsement of videos posted by a leader of an extremist UK fringe group is prompting reaction both in the United States and abroad.
The videos were tweeted out by the account held by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the far-right U.K. political party "Britain First," which is known for promoting an anti-Islam, anti-immigration and nationalist agenda. The group is estimated to have only about 1,000 active members, and its rallies around the U.K. draw supporters numbering only in the hundreds.
Following Mr. Trump's retweets of Fransen, numerous lawmakers in the United Kingdom raised their concerns over the president's subtle support of the group.
Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesperson said in a statement in response to the retweets, that it was "wrong for the president to have done this." The statement added:
"Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which 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 that this country represents - decency, tolerance and respect."
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labor party tweeted, "I hope our government will condemn far-right retweets by Donald Trump. They are abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society."
I hope our Government will condemn far-right retweets by Donald Trump. They are abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 29, 2017
A member of Parliament, Yvette Cooper, took to the floor to condemn Fransen's remarks, tweeting that the UK government "can't stay silent" on Mr. Trump's tweets, calling it "disgraceful and dangerous."
UK Gov can't stay silent on Trump tweets. He is promoting woman convicted of hate crime from racist group here in UK. Disgraceful & dangerous pic.twitter.com/DnW4uLUxiF— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) November 29, 2017
Brendan Cox, husband of the Labour party lawmaker Jo Cox who was killed by a man who shouted the name of the group at the time of her slaying, tweeted in response to Mr. Trump's retweets Wednesday morning, saying he has "legitimized the far right in his own country, now he's trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences and the president should be ashamed of himself."
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
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, of Colorado, called Mr. Trump's retweets "irresponsible and disgraceful."
.@POTUS’ retweets of an extremist hate group are irresponsible and disgraceful. Hate groups should be condemned, not promoted.— Michael F. Bennet (@SenBennetCO) November 29, 2017
Rep. Don Beyer, D-Virginia, called on the White House to clarify the president's remarks, and "stop spreading bigotry."
What "threat" does she mean? The discredited posts paint all Muslims as violent. The British government condemned Trump for sharing them.— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) November 29, 2017
The White House must clarify that it does not view all Muslims, including millions of Americans, as a "threat," and stop spreading bigotry. https://t.co/kSqhQidgmf
Meanwhile, former KKK imperial wizard David Duke appeared to defend the president, saying Mr. Trump "brings to light what the lying, fake news media won't."
This is why WE LOVE TRUMP and WHY the FAKE NEWS MEDIA HATES TRUMP. He brings to light what the lying, Fake News Media Won't. The truth is the media covers up horrific numbers of racist hate crimes against White people! https://t.co/G9pP9qCUNM— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) November 29, 2017
And On Fransen's own Twitter account, a message appeared lauding Mr. Trump for sharing the Britain First message with his "around 44 million followers!"
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 @JaydaBF@realDonaldTrumppic.twitter.com/BiQfQkTra9— Jayda Fransen (@JaydaBF) November 29, 2017
Fransen later tweeted that she was "facing prison time for criticizing Islam" in light of Mr. Trump's support, saying "Britain is now Sharia compliant."
Thanks for the retweets @realDonaldTrump— Jayda Fransen (@JaydaBF) November 29, 2017
I'm facing prison for criticising Islam
Britain is now Sharia compliant
I need your help! God bless
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also responded to the outcry later Wednesday morning, telling reporters "regardless of the video, the threat is very real."
She added, "the president has talked about the need for strong borders and strong security since the campaign trail, that's not a secret that's something he'll continue talking about and continue highlighting in a lot of different venues and avenues."
Asked if the president's retweets were an endorsement of the "Britain First" movement, Sanders replied, "Not that I'm aware of but he does endorse a strong national security and endorses strong borders."