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Trump under fire for retweeting inflammatory anti-Muslim videos

Trump has long been criticised for his anti-Muslim rhetoric,

world Updated: Nov 29, 2017 23:37 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump,anti-Muslim,Jayda Franson
US President Donald Trump at the White House on November 28, 2017.(NYT)

US President Donald Trump has come under fire after he retweeted three anti-Muslim videos posted by the deputy leader of a British far-right group on Wednesday — a move which could potentially further aggravate Islamophobic sentiments in the United States.

Jayda Franson of the anti-immigrant Britain First group posted the unverified videos, claiming they showed a Muslim gang beating a teenage boy to death, battering a boy on crutches and destroying a Christian statue. Her timeline has many similar videos, and her top “pinned” tweet is a video of her leading an anti-Muslim march in Luton.

The US president retweeted the videos without comment. Soon afterwards, the official account of Britain First — which has about 24,000 followers — tweeted excitedly: “Donald Trump himself has retweeted these videos and has around 44 million followers! God bless you Trump!”

A screenshot from Donald Trump's Twitter account. (AP)

Trump’s actions came in for immediate criticism from all quarters.

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May in a statement 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. It is wrong for the president to have done this.”

Brendan Cox, the widower of murdered MP Jo Cox — who was killed by a far-right terrorist shouting “Britain first” — accused Trump of spreading hatred and trying to legitimise the right-wing in the UK.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said: “By his unconscionable and irresponsible actions this morning, President Trump is clearly telling members of his base that they should hate Islam and Muslims.

“These are actions one would expect to see on virulent anti-Muslim hate sites, not on the Twitter feed of the president of the United States. Trump’s posts amount to incitement to violence against American Muslims. His actions should be condemned by all American political and religious leaders, regardless of their party or faith.”

Trump has long been criticised for his 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”.

The attacks on Muslims plays to a section of his supporters that he has courted assiduously since jumping into the presidential race in 2015. And his anti-Muslim rhetoric and measures have had consequences, with the FBI recently reporting a 20% increase in the number of hate-crimes against the community.

Fransen, along with the fringe group’s head, was arrested in September and charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment over the distribution of leaflets and posting online videos during the court trial involving the case of a number of Muslim men accused and later convicted of rape. Earlier this month, she was found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment after she verbally abused a Muslim woman wearing a hijab.

(With inputs from Agencies)

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 22:47 IST