Theresa May slams Trump for sharing divisive video from a fringe group

British Prime Minister, Theresa May
British Prime Minister, Theresa May

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, on Wednesday delivered a rare criticism of President Donald Trump for retweeting anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant videos originally posted by a far-right U.K. political group.

Mr. Trump recirculated the video posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the fringe group Britain First, which opposes alleged “Islamisation” of Britain and known for inflammatory tactics, including occupying mosques.

“It is wrong for the president to have done this,” Ms. May said in a statement.

The footage Mr. Trump retweeted purportedly showed a Muslim migrant beating up a Dutch boy on crutches. The second was captioned “Muslim destroys a statute of Virgin Mary,” and the third read: “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”

Mr. Trump retweeted the videos, even though their authenticity was still in doubt.

When asked whether the White House has a responsibility to verify information before sharing it, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded that “whether it’s a real video, the threat is real and that’s what the president is talking about.

Ms. Fransen thanked Mr. Trump for helping to spread the videos to his 44 million followers in a tweet.

A Briton whose wife was killed by a far-right nationalist in 2016 accused Mr. Trump of trying to legitimise right-wing extremists in the U.K.

“Trump has legitimised the far-right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours,” tweeted Brendan Cox, whose wife, Jo, was gruesomely murdered last year in her constituency by a man who witnesses said shouted “Britain First.”

“Spreading hatred has consequences, and the president should be ashamed of himself,” Mr. Cox added.

Britain First denied responsibility for the attack on Jo Cox.

In her statement Wednesday, Ms. May said Britain First sought to “divide communities in their use of hateful narratives which pedal lies and stoke tensions.”

“This causes anxieties to law abiding people,” she added. “The British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudice rhetoric of the far-right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents; decency, tolerance and respect.”

The fallout would not affect Mr. Trump’s visit to the U.K. next year, the statement said.


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