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Trump Criticized in Britain, U.S. for Sharing Anti-Muslim Videos
President Donald Trump announces that the United States will designate North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Washington. From left, acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Trump. "In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil," Trump told reporters at the White House. AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Thursday, 30 November, 2017 | 07:24 WIB
Trump Criticized in Britain, U.S. for Sharing Anti-Muslim Videos

TEMPO.CO, Washington - President Donald Trump, who campaigned to bar Muslims he sees as a security threat, on Wednesday shared anti-Muslim videos posted on Twitter by a far-right British party leader, drawing condemnation from Britain, U.S. Muslim groups and some members of Congress.

The White House defended Trump's retweets saying he was raising security issues. As president, Trump has issued executive orders banning entry to some citizens of several Muslim-majority countries, although courts have partially blocked the measures from taking effect.

"Look, I'm not talking about the nature of the video," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters. "The threat is real and that's what the president is talking about is the need for national security, the need for military spending, and those are very real things. There's nothing fake about that."

Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of anti-immigration Britain First, posted the videos which she said showed a group of people who were Muslims beating a teenage boy to death, battering a boy on crutches and destroying a Christian statue. Fransen was convicted earlier this month of abusing a Muslim woman and was ordered to pay a fine and legal costs.

Some British lawmakers demanded an apology from Trump for sharing the videos with his nearly 44 million Twitter followers and U.S. Muslim groups said he had been incendiary and reckless.

"It is wrong for the president to have done this," the spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said.

"Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people," the spokesman said.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify the videos and Fransen herself said they had come from various online sources which had been posted on her social media pages.

"I'm delighted," Fransen, who has 53,000 Twitter followers, told Reuters. She said Trump's retweets showed the U.S. president shared her aim of raising awareness of "issues such as Islam".

Read: Trump Retweets Anti Muslim Videos from Far-right British Party

The White House 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.

Fransen thanked Trump and said, "The important message here is Donald Trump has been made aware of the persecution and prosecution of a political leader in Britain for giving what has been said by police to be an anti-Islamic speech."

One of the videos that Trump retweeted first circulated on social and Egyptian state media in 2013, showing what appeared to be supporters of now-ousted Islamist President Mohammed Mursi throwing two youths from a concrete tower onto a roof.

In reference to another video that was titled "Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!", the Netherlands embassy in the United States tweeted back at Trump saying:

"@realDonaldTrump 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."

Trump's promotion of the videos contrasts with the way he often criticizes mainstream U.S. media, lambasting some outlets for "fake news" when they air segments he regards as being against him.

"What we saw today is one of many videos that is circulating on anti-Muslim hate websites," said Ilhan Cagri with the U.S.-based Muslim Public Affairs Council.

"It is years-old and simply aims to breed fear for Muslims and Islam and breed violence. It has nothing to do with the practice of Islam itself," Cagri said.

The Anti-Defamation League said the retweets would only encourage "extremists and anti-Muslim bigots in the United States and abroad who exploit the propaganda value."

"Such content is the engine that fuels extremist movements and will embolden bigots in the U.S. who already believe the president is a fellow traveler," the ADL said in a statement.

Democrats in Congress and at least one Republican lawmaker were also critical of Trump.

"The violence depicted in these videos is horrific, but it is abhorrent that President Trump would choose to deliberately fan the flames of hatred and religious bigotry," Democratic U.S. Senator Jack Reed said in a statement.

Republican Senator John McCain, a frequent critic of Trump, said he was "surprised" that Donald Trump had chosen to retweet those videos. "What do I think about it? Obviously, surprised. Surprised," he told Reuters as he left a meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah at the U.S. Senate.

REUTERS



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