On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump retweeted three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos first posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First.
The videos, which were posted on the president’s account without comment, are captioned “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches,” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of the Virgin Mary,” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death.” The latter two are more than three years old, while according to Dutch media the aggressor in the first video was neither Muslim nor a migrant.
Fransen, naturally, was delighted with the re-tweets. “DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS. GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA!”. She ends the tweet with OCS, which is shorthand for “Onwards Christian Soldiers.” Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke also praised the retweets for “showing us what the fake news media WON’T.”
British politicians, however, were again furious with Trump. Labour MP David Lammy tweeted that Trump “is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted. He is no ally and friend of ours.” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called on the British Government to condemn Trump’s far-right tweets. Even Paul Joseph Watson, the British editor-at-large for Infowars who regularly traffics in conspiracy theories, implied that Britain First was too extreme for him, saying that “retweeting Britain First is not great optics.”
Yeah, someone might want to tell whoever is running Trump's Twitter account this morning that retweeting Britain First is not great optics. 🤔
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) November 29, 2017
Brendan Cox, the widow of murdered MP Jo Cox, wrote that “the President should be ashamed of himself.” When mother-of-two Cox was murdered in the run-up to the Brexit vote last year the assailant, Thomas Mair, repeatedly yelled “Britain First”.
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
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
Britain First is a small, xenophobic, far-right party which has grown in significance over the last few years thanks to the declining influence of other U.K. far-right groups like the British National Party (BNP) and English Defense League (EDL), according to anti-fascist charity Hope Not Hate. The group has attracted a large online following by filming their Islamophobic stunts, including walking into mosques with their shoes on and harassing Muslim politicians. Britain First also has ties to Protestant extremist groups in Northern Ireland. In 2013, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) arrested Jim Dowson, then one of the group’s financial backers, for organizing illegal flag protests in Belfast during a period of heavy sectarian rioting.
Fransen herself is no stranger to the law either. Earlier in November she was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment for shouting at a Muslim mother in front of her four children for wearing a hijab. On November 19 she was arrested by PSNI detectives in relation to a speech made in Belfast over the summer. Fransen, along with Britain First leader Paul Golding, had attended a demonstration which aimed to highlight the victims of IRA terrorism. On the same day another march sought to highlight the use of internment by the British Army in 1971 at the height of the Northern Irish Troubles. Essentially Fransen was trying to provoke sectarian rivalry in a city that has been blighted by it for decades.
This is far from the first time that Trump has retweeted racist content. The president has previously shared content from accounts that post anti-Semitic propaganda, incendiary conspiracy theories, and promote racist birther theories. ThinkProgress has previously detailed how several of the accounts Trump has retweeted appear to be automated, fully or partially.