- Reuters/Thierry Charlier
- President Donald Trump launched an extraordinary attack on British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday night after she criticized his retweets of anti-Muslim videos.
- The US president had shared videos from the extremist far-right group Britain First.
- “Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom,” Trump tweeted at May.
President Donald Trump launched an extraordinary attack on British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday night after she criticized him, further fueling the firestorm caused by his early-morning retweets of extremist anti-Muslim videos.
.@Theresa_May, 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2017
Earlier in the day, Trump had retweeted inflammatory videos posted by a leader of Britain First, an ultranationalist far-right group that peddles anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. The videos, intending to depict Muslims in a bad light, were given provocative, misleading titles.
Following outrage across the political spectrum in Britain, a representative for May condemned Trump’s tweets on Wednesday in a rare criticism of an American president by a British prime minister.
“Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions,” the person said. “British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance and respect.”
Trump fired back with an extraordinary attack on the British prime minister, tweeting: “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’s tweet linked to a different Twitter user instead of May’s actual handle: @theresa_may. The tweet was later deleted. Nineteen minutes later, Trump tweeted again, this time with May’s correct handle.)
Trump’s retweeting of the Britain First leader was universally condemned by British leaders, including Sajid Javid, a cabinet minister of Muslim heritage: “So POTUS has endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organization that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the tweets “abhorrent, dangerous, and a threat to our society.”
Trump has attacked British political leaders over Islam before. In the aftermath of the London Bridge terrorist attack in June, he called the response of London’s Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, “pathetic.”
Khan criticized Trump over the anti-Muslim retweets, saying “Britain First is a vile, hate-fuelled organisation whose views should be condemned, not amplified.”
Jayda Fransen, who posted the videos, has previously been found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment after shouting at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, and she has recently been charged with inciting religious hatred.