Trump sparks outrage in UK with tweet to
May after sharing far-right videos
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[November 30, 2017]
By Guy Faulconbridge and Estelle Shirbon
LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald
Trump, in an unprecedented public attack on America's closest security
ally, sharply rebuked British Prime Theresa May on Twitter after Britain
criticized him for retweeting British far-right anti-Islam videos.
"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, sparking further
outrage in Britain that has seen several major Islamist militant attacks
on its streets.
Trump's unrepentant response was a reaction to May's spokesman who on
Wednesday criticized his retweets of anti-Islam videos originally posted
by a leader of a British far-right fringe group.
"It is wrong for the president to have done this," the spokesman said.
Trump sparked criticism on both sides of the Atlantic on Wednesday by
sharing anti-Muslim videos posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the
group Britain First, who was convicted this month of abusing a Muslim
His new response triggered outrage in Britain, with some opposition
politicians demanding he apologize for his sharp words to May.
Islamist militants have carried out several major attacks in Britain
this year that have killed a total of 36 people, including a bombing in
Manchester and two attacks on bridges in London in which victims were
rammed with vehicles and stabbed.
A spokesman for May's Downing Street office in London declined to
comment on Trump's tweet on Thursday. May was on a trip to the Middle
East and was expected to speak to media in Jordan later on Thursday.
Trump initially addressed his tweet to a Twitter handle that was not
May's, though he later retweeted to the British leader's correct
Always a pillar of Britain's foreign policy, the so-called "special
relationship" with Washington has taken on added importance as Britain
prepares to leave the European Union in 2019. Since Trump became
president, May has gone out of her way to cultivate a good relationship
She was the first foreign leader to visit him after his inauguration,
and they were filmed emerging from the White House holding hands. She
also invited him to make a state visit to Britain, angering Trump's many
critics in Britain.
Trump's tweet triggered outraged reaction in Britain, including from
Brendan Cox, the husband of lawmaker Jo Cox who was murdered in 2016 by
a far-right extremist.
"You have a mass shooting every single day in your country, your murder
rate is many times that of the UK, your healthcare system is a disgrace,
you can't pass anything through a Congress that you control. I would
focus on that," Cox tweeted.
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump speaks about tax reform legislation during a
visit to St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin
The videos shared by Trump 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. The Dutch embassy in
Washington issued a Twitter comment on one of them, which Fransen
had described as showing a "Muslim migrant" beating up a boy.
"@realDonald Trump 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."
British lawmakers demanded that Trump make an apology for retweeting
the videos, while U.S. Muslim groups said the president's action was
incendiary and reckless.
Sajid Javid, Britain's minister for communities and local
government, who is Muslim, tweeted: "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."
Vince Cable, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats party, urged
May to demand a public apology from Trump over what Cable described
as an "insult" to May.
"She (May) must end humiliating dependence of Brexit Britain on
goodwill of evil racist. Cancel visit," he tweeted, referring to
Trump's state visit, which has yet to be scheduled.
Britain First's Fransen welcomed Trump's retweeting of the videos.
"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 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.
It 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.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Estelle Shirbon; editing by
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