Donald Trump has retweeted three anti-Muslim videos posted by the deputy leader of the far-right British political party Britain First.
The videos originally posted by Jayda Fransen are captioned “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!”, “VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” and “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”
Britain First is electorally insignificant but has gained a reputation in the UK for headline-grabbing anti-Muslim media stunts, including occupying mosques and halal slaughterhouses.
Fransen responded to Trump sharing her videos to 44 million followers by tweeting “GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS YOU AMERICA!”
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 @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/BiQfQkTra9
— Jayda Fransen (@JaydaBF) November 29, 2017
The videos retweeted by Trump come from various sources.
The clip of a man being pushed off a rooftop was filmed in Egypt during the 2013 overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi. One man was hanged after being found guilty of the crime.
The clip of two teenagers fighting originally went viral after being posted to Dutch video sharing website Dumpert.nl. The video led to an arrest of a 16 year old boy in Monnickendam and the video was removed from Dumpert at the request of the police.
Dumpert’s sister website Geenstijl has since posted a debunk of the video claiming that no migrants were involved in the video and calling Trump’s retweet “fake news”.
The source of the video showing a Virgin Mary statue being destroyed is unclear.
Trump does not follow Fransen, raising questions about how he encountered the Britain First deputy leader’s tweets. However, right-wing journalist Ann Coulter, who the President follows, did retweet one of the videos on Tuesday night.
Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars editor-at-large and a leading right-wing internet commentator based in the UK, suggested the move was “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
Britain First is a niche political party with no elected representatives which was formed by former members of the British National Party, itself an offshoot of the National Front. It has largely served as a vehicle for Fransen and Golding’s activities but was one of the first UK political groups to realise the potential of social media.
BuzzFeed News has previously reported how a small number of Britain First members are used to spread anti-Muslim anti-immigrant rhetoric, sometimes disguised as memes about animal welfare. The party also paid Facebook to promote its anti-Islam material into users’ newsfeeds.
Britain First leader Paul Golding stood for election as mayor of London in 2016, finishing a distant eighth place behind Labour’s Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to hold the post. Golding responded by turning his back on Khan’s victory speech in protest.
The party gained prominence following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by the far right extremist Thomas Mair during the 2016 EU referendum campaign. In the hours after the attack, posts on the page cast doubt on whether or not Mair had shouted “Britain First” as he killed Cox outside a constituency surgery.
Cox’s husband said Trump was vindicating the British far-right group.
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
The party, which threatened “militant direct action” against elected Muslims, operates a “defence force”, and gives activists “self-defence training” on camping retreats.