LONDON – The interior minister of the United Kingdom insisted on Thursday that the United State’s president retweeting a British far-right political organization’s videos was an error, as she answered questions from lawmakers in parliament who insisted the country take action.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump retweeted three videos from Britain First, a far-right organization that promotes direct action against Muslims in the UK, prompting a firm rebuttal from British Prime Minister Theresa May.
In response to May’s condemnation, Trump tweeted at her, telling her to instead focus on her own country and its supposed problem with so-called “Radical Islamist Terrorism.”
Amber Rudd answered questions from lawmakers from all parties, who primarily insisted that the government cancel an upcoming state visit and act swiftly to ensure that online hatred is mitigated.
But the home secretary simply repeated that: “An invitation has been extended and accepted, but no arrangements have yet been made,” adding that the two countries had a close relationship, though the government would not tolerate any group that promotes hate.
Labour MP Rupa Huq drew parallels with an Indian preacher who was banned from the UK for his statements declaring all Muslims to be terrorists and a rapper who faced similar consequences for his misogynistic lyrics, asking why Trump was receiving different treatment.
Another MP suggested that a diplomatic way out would be to tell Trump that, due to an upcoming royal wedding and birth of the third child of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Queen Elizabeth II of the UK would be too busy to host him for another three years at least, by which time his mandate would be over.
Rudd was unable to answer whether anyone in the UK had asked that the tweets get taken down.
One of the BF tweets that Trump shared was proven to be fake news, as though the caption claimed it depicted a Muslim migrant beating up a Dutch boy, it was proven to in fact show a fight between two Dutch teenagers.
The tweets came from Britain First’s deputy leader Jayda Fransen, who in 2016 was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment after she harassed a Muslim mother for wearing the hijab and in 2017 was arrested three times for continued religious harassment and threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior.
Britain First was founded in 2011 by former members of the British National Party who were connected, among other things, to the Ulster Defence Association, a paramilitary Protestant group in Northern Ireland linked to around 260 killings.
In 2016, Labour MP Jo Cox was killed by a man who yelled “Britain first” as he attacked her, though the party claimed the murder was not linked to them.