Welby accuses President Trump of amplifying the voice of far-right extremists

30 November 2017

Twitter

Amplified: one of the videos retweeted by President Trump

Amplified: one of the videos retweeted by President Trump

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has joined in condemnation of President Trump for sharing anti-Muslim videos on Twitter, which were originally posted by Britain First, a far-right group.

President Trump retweeted three posts by Britain First on Wednesday, which purported to show Muslims carrying out assaults. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has granted the Labour MP Stephen Doughty permission to ask an urgent question about the Twitter messages.

In a message posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday evening, Archbishop Welby said: “It is deeply disturbing that the President of the United States has chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists. Britain First seeks to divide communities and intimidate minorities, especially our Muslim friends and neighbours. Britain First does not share our values of tolerance and solidarity.

“God calls us as Christians to love our neighbour and seek the flourishing of all in our communities, societies, and nations. I join the urgent call of faith groups and others for President Trump not just to remove these tweets, but to make clear his opposition to racism and hatred in all forms.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesman yesterday said that it was “wrong for the President to have done this”. President Trump responded to Mrs May on Twitter: “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!”

The videos were originally posted on Twitter by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First. One, purporting to show a “Muslim migrant” beating a “Dutch boy on crutches”, is said to feature two Dutch boys, neither of them Muslims or migrants. The two other videos date from 2013, and show members of the Muslim Brotherhood throwing rivals off a rooftop, and a Syrian destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary.

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Ms Fransen was convicted last year of religiously aggravated harassment; and is currently on bail for two other alleged offences.

Britain First has 26,900 Twitter followers; President Trump has 43.6 million.

Brendan Cox, the widower of Jo Cox, who was murdered last year by a far-right extremist shouting “Britain First” (News, 24 June 2016), told CNN: “This is like the President retweeting the Ku Klux Klan. This is not a mainstream organisation, and for the President of the United States, our greatest ally as a country, to be retweeting, to be providing a microphone to those voices, I think no matter what your perception of the UK, I think has been shocked by that.”

The Christian Muslim Forum said on Thursday that it was “appalled” by the President’s actions in retweeting the anti-Muslim videos. “Whilst fully condemning the violence shown in the videos, we are extremely concerned to see anti-Muslim propaganda given such publicity and implied credence.”

During an interview with Robert Peston on ITV, on Sunday, Archbishop Welby was asked about whether he could understand the “amazing support from fundamentalist Christians” enjoyed by President Trump He said: “I really genuinely do not understand where that is coming from”.

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