President Donald Trump on Wednesday retweeted a series of overtly Islamophobic videos shared by a controversial British far-right activist, drawing swift condemnation.
The videos, posted by Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen, claim to show violent crimes committed by Muslims. Britain First is widely known in the U.K. for spreading Islamophobic and racist videos, including many proven to be fake.
Trump’s endorsement of the videos was denounced by the British government, with Downing Street saying the president was “wrong” to retweet videos from a group that “peddles lies” and is “overwhelmingly rejected” by the British public.
Fransen’s first tweet shows a boy beating another boy on crutches. The caption says: “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” Yet the video’s original caption, released with the video in May on a Dutch website, mentioned neither race nor religion. And the 16-year-old pictured in the video was in fact not a migrant but born in the Netherlands, the Dutch embassy in the U.S. confirmed. He and another 16-year-old who shot the video were charged for provoking the fight.
.@realDonaldTrump Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law.
— Netherlands Embassy 🇺🇸 (@NLintheUSA) November 29, 2017
A second video appears to show a man destroying a Virgin Mary statue. An Iranian news site claims the man shown in the video belongs to the al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra. The site says the video dates to 2013 and was taken in a church in a northwestern Syrian town.
The third video shows a group of men, including one who appears to wear the flag of the self-described Islamic State, throwing another man off a roof. France 24 shared the video in 2013, saying it appears to show a mob of angry men chasing down a teenager in Alexandria, Egypt.
Fransen reacted with delight to Trump’s retweets.
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
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s retweets, saying topics raised by the videos are “real threats we have to talk about.”
Asked whether the videos themselves were real, Sanders said simply that “the threats are real ― no matter how you look at it.
“His goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security,” she said of the president.
Trump’s tweets appear to continue a swerve away from reality in recent days, with him questioning the legitimacy of the “Access Hollywood” tape that caught him bragging about sexual assault and reviving his debunked birther lie that former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.
Advocacy groups lambasted Trump’s Twitter activity.
“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,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement. “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.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, warned that Trump’s spreading of the videos would “embolden bigots.”
Brendan Cox, the husband of slain British parliamentarian Jo Cox, accused Trump of legitimizing the far right in the U.S., and now in the U.K.