U.K. Political Leaders Outraged After Trump Retweets Anti-Muslim Videos

Nov 29, 2017
Originally published on November 29, 2017 6:25 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

As we just heard, the president retweeted videos posted by a leader of an extremist group in the U.K., a group called Britain First. The videos claim to show Muslims attacking people and smashing a Christian statue. NPR's Frank Langfitt has reaction from London.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken).

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: One video showed an unidentified mob pushing a boy off a tower and beating him. Another showed a man smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED MEN: Allahu akbar.

LANGFITT: And the third video showed a Dutch youth falsely identified as a Muslim beating another youth who was on crutches.

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UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: (Foreign language spoken).

LANGFITT: Trump retweeted the videos which were recently circulated by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First, an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim group. Fransen is out on bail after being convicted of religiously aggravated harassment. Last year, she confronted a Muslim mother on the street, saying Muslims were quote, "coming into my country, raping women across the continent." Miqdaad Versi is assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

MIQDAAD VERSI: I was completely appalled that the president of the USA had in essence endorsed the far-right and their vile anti-Muslim propaganda in a way that I really didn't expect.

LANGFITT: Before last year's referendum to leave the European Union, a right-wing extremist murdered British legislator Jo Cox. Witnesses said as he attacked her, he said, put Britain first. Responding to the president's behavior today, Cox's husband, Brendan, tweeted this. Trump has legitimized the far-right in his own country; now he's trying to do it in ours.

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LANGFITT: At Champs barbershop in Central London, I spoke with Simon, a local physician, as he was getting his beard trimmed. He asked us not to use his last name for fear Trump's supporters would harass him online. Simon sees at least some calculation behind the president's retweets.

SIMON: It's all part of his project, isn't it? It's all, you know - authoritarian strongmen rely on a culture of fear that they're going to protect the public from. The more fear you get, the more power you get. And so it's all part of the plan.

LANGFITT: Politicians of all stripes in Britain deplored the president's actions today. A spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said Trump was, quote, "wrong to retweet the videos." But the government said it still planned to host Trump for a state visit sometime in the future. Frank Langfitt, NPR News, London.

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