WASHINGTON (CBS NEWS) — President Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday morning, retweeting violent images and videos that appeared to be anti-Islamic in nature.
The videos were tweeted out by the account held by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of fringewhich subscribes to an anti-Islam, anti-immigration and nationalist agenda. The group is estimated to have only about 1,000 active members, and its rallies around the U.K. draw supporters numbering only in the hundreds.
On Fransen’s own Twitter account, a message appeared lauding Mr. Trump for sharing the Britain First message with his “around 44 million followers!”
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 first video posted by Fransen Wednesday morning and subsequently retweeted by Mr. Trump is from around 2012, as political unrest roiled Egypt. The clip shows supporters of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group chasing opponents in the city of Alexandria, and throwing at least one of them from a rooftop. The main suspect implicated in the incident was sentenced to death and executed a year later, reports CBS News’ Khaled Wassef.
The second video Mr. Trump re-circulated is from 2013, in war-torn Syria’s Idlib Province. It shows a Sharia law judge of the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front destroying a Virgin Mary statue and declaring that none other than Allah would be worshipped in the area. The militant group, which has since changed its name to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, still holds significant territory in Idlib Province.
The third video appears to have been first posted in May 2017, purportedly showing a Muslim migrant beating a Dutch boy on crutches. The origin of the video is unclear, and CBS News cannot confirm its authenticity.
Fransen was arrested earlier this month in London over a speech she gave in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the summer. According to CBS News partner network BBC News, Fransen has been charged with using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior,” and is due to appear in court on Dec. 14.
In 2016, Fransen was convicted for religiously aggravated harassment for shouting at a Muslim woman during one of her group’s so-called “Christian patrols” through neighborhoods with high Muslim populations. Fransen admitted telling the Muslim woman that men of the faith force women to cover up to avoid rape, “because they cannot control their sexual urges,” adding, “That’s why they are coming into my country raping women across the continent.”
Britain First made headlines in 2016 after, was assassinated by a man who shouted out the fringe party’s name during his attack. No ties to the actual organization were ever established.
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
Brendan Cox, husband of the Labour party lawmaker who was killed, tweeted in response to Mr. Trump’s retweets Wednesday morning, saying he has “legitimized the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences and the president should be ashamed of himself.”