LONDON/WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump rebuked British Prime Minister Theresa May after Britain criticized him for retweeting anti-Islam videos originally posted by a leader of a far-right British fringe party.
“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.
Trump initially tagged the tweet to a Twitter handle that is not Theresa May’s, though he later retweeted to the British leader’s account.
.@Theresa_May, 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2017
He had sparked a storm of criticism on both sides of the Atlantic 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.
The videos 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.
“It is wrong for the president to have done this,” a spokesman for May said on Wednesday.
British lawmakers demanded Trump make an apology and US Muslim groups said it was incendiary and reckless.
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.
“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 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.