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British PM says Trump 'wrong' for retweets; WH says Islamic threat 'real'

By Danielle Haynes
British PM says Trump 'wrong' for retweets; WH says Islamic threat 'real'
President Donald Trump shared three videos purporting to depict Muslims engaging in violence. His press secretary said that regardless of whether the videos are real, "the threat is real." Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday shared three tweets from a British far-right leader purporting to show Muslims engaging in violence, a move Britain's prime minister condemned.

The three Twitter videos were originally posted by Jayda Fransen, a leader of the Britain First Party, which promotes traditional British heritage and campaigns against immigration and Islam.

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The videos include the descriptions: "Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!," "Muslim destroys a statue of Virgin Mary" and "Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!" The identity of the subjects, timeframe and content of the videos have not been verified.

Fransen, who in September was charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment, praised Trump for sharing her Twitter posts.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and other British leaders condemned the posts.

"It is wrong for the president to have done this," May's office said. "Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people."

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British MP David Lammy of the Labor Party said Trump was "no ally or friend of ours."

"Trump sharing Britain First. Let that sink in. The president of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted," he tweeted.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said reporters were "focusing on the wrong thing" by trying to determine the videos' authenticity.

"Whether it is a real video, the threat is real," she told reporters. "That is what the president is talking about, that is what the president is focused on is dealing with those real threats, and those are real no matter how you look at it."

Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump warned against the threat from Islam, in one interview with CNN saying, "Islam hates us."

"There's something there that -- there's a tremendous hatred there," Trump said. "There's a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There's an unbelievable hatred of us."

During his campaign, he also proposed a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." Once he became president, he introduced a ban on people traveling from predominantly Muslim countries. When faced with a legal battle over the travel ban -- which has gone through three iterations -- the administration's lawyers said it was not based on religion.

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Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called Trump's tweets "irresponsible."

"These are actions one would expect to see on virulent anti-Muslim hate sites, not on the Twitter feed of the president of the United States," he said. "Trump's posts amount to incitement to violence against American Muslims. His actions should be condemned by all American political and religious leaders, regardless of their party or faith."

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