Trump hits out at UK’S May over crit­i­cism of shar­ing far-right videos

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sharply re­buked Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May on Twit­ter af­ter Britain crit­i­cised him for retweet­ing anti-is­lam videos orig­i­nally posted by a leader of a Bri­tish far-right fringe party.

His tweet, in which he told May to fo­cus on ter­ror­ism in­stead of him, was an un­prece­dented pub­lic at­tack on the leader of the United States’ clos­est se­cu­rity ally.

“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.

The tweet was a reaction to a com­ment from May’s spokesman, who said on Wed­nes­day in re­sponse to Trump’s retweets of the anti-is­lam videos: “It is wrong for the pres­i­dent to have done this.”

Trump had sparked a storm of crit­i­cism on both sides of the At­lantic on Wed­nes­day by shar­ing anti-mus­lim videos posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of anti-im­mi­gra­tion fringe group Britain First, who was con­victed this month of abus­ing a Mus­lim woman.

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.

Trump ini­tially ad­dressed his tweet to a Twit­ter han­dle that is not May’s, though he later retweeted to the Bri­tish leader’s ac­count.

Since Trump be­came pres­i­dent, May has gone out of her way to cul­ti­vate a good re­la­tion­ship with him, as Britain pre­pares to exit the Euro­pean Union in 2019.

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.

“NOT OK” Trump’s tweet drew out­raged re­ac­tions 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.

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.

Bri­tish law­mak­ers de­manded that Trump make an apol­ogy for retweet­ing the videos, while US Mus­lim groups said the pres­i­dent’s ac­tion was in­cen­di­ary and reck­less.

Tom Tu­gend­hat, a law­maker from May’s Con­ser­va­tive Party who was pre­vi­ously in the mil­i­tary, wrote: “I went to war along­side coura­geous @ Usarmy to fight ex­trem­ism, not pro­mote it. It’s not ok to ig­nore vile racism and worse to back it.”

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 US 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. – Reuters

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