White House defends Trump’s Muslim tweets
The White House on Wednesday defended President Trump’s widely condemned retweets of videos purporting to show violence committed by Muslims.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that whether the inflammatory videos are real or not, “the threat is real.”
“I’m not talking about the nature of the video,” she told reporters at the White House. “I think you’re focusing on the wrong thing. The threat is real and that is what the president is talking about.”
Sanders said the videos underscore the need for Trump’s push to bolster national security and secure the nation’s borders.
“Those are very real things. There is nothing fake about that,” she said.
Trump retweeted videos posted by Jayda Fransen, a leader of the far-right organization Britain First. The group is considered a fringe entity in the U.K. and Fransen has been convicted of a hate crime.
The tweets set off a massive backlash against the president on both sides of the Atlantic.
U.S. civil rights leaders accused Trump of fanning anti-Muslim sentiment and the British government condemned the tweets.
“British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents — decency, tolerance and respect,” British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said in a statement. “It is wrong for the president to have done this.”
The Council of American-Islamic Relations also condemned the tweets. The group’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said Trump is “clearly telling members of his base that they should hate Islam and Muslims.”
“Trump’s posts amount to incitement to violence against American Muslims,” he said. “His actions should be condemned by all American political and religious leaders, regardless of their party or faith.”
Fransen’s first tweet read: “VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”
“VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” read another. “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” read a third.
The videos have not been independently authenticated.