Trump attacks UK's May over criticism of sharing anti-Muslim videos
LONDON / WASHINGTON
U.S. President Donald Trump rebuked British Prime Minister Theresa May after Britain criticized him for retweeting anti-Islam videos originally posted by a leader of a far-right British fringe party.
"Theresa @theresamay, don't focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine," Trump tweeted.
Trump had sparked a storm of criticism on both sides of the Atlantic by sharing anti-Muslim videos posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of anti-immigration fringe group Britain First, who was convicted this month of abusing a Muslim woman.
The videos purported to show a group of people who were Muslims beating a teenage boy to death, battering a boy on crutches and destroying a Christian statue. Reuters was unable to verify the videos.
"It is wrong for the president to have done this," a spokesman for May said on Nov. 29.
British lawmakers demanded Trump make an apology and U.S. Muslim groups said it was incendiary and reckless.
The White House defended the retweets by the Republican president, who during the 2016 U.S. election campaign called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," saying that he was raising security issues.
"I'm delighted," Fransen, who has 53,000 Twitter followers, told Reuters. She said Trump's retweets showed the president shared her aim of raising awareness of "issues such as Islam."
The White House repeatedly refused to be drawn into the content of the videos or whether Trump was aware of the source of the tweets.
"It's about ensuring that individuals who come into the United States don't pose a public safety or terrorism threat," White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Brendan Cox, widower of MP Jo Cox who was murdered by a right-wing extremist last year, said: "Trump has legitimized 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," he said.
Trump's behavior renewed calls for May to revoke an invitation for the American president to make a state visit.
David Lammy, a lawmaker for Britain's opposition Labour Party, said: "The president of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted.
"He is no ally or friend of ours," he said.
Conservative Minister Sajid Javid said Trump had "endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing."
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said the retweets were "abhorrent, dangerous and a threat."
Added Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: "UK has a proud history as an open, tolerant society & hate speech has no place here."