Many people across the political spectrum were aghast at Donald Trump’s retweets of incendiary anti-Muslim videos on Wednesday and at least one of the videos has been found to be falsely captioned in order to push a far right Islamophobic narrative.
The original tweets were posted by far right extremist and deputy leader of Britain, First Jayda Fransen, who has been arrested a number of times for verbally abusing a mother and her children on the streets of Luton, inciting religious hatred in her speeches, and causing religiously aggravated harassment by distributing hate-filled leaflets.
Britain First includes various former members of the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL) and has found online popularity by pushing anti-Muslim propaganda online, where their racist content is shared widely amongst white nationalists and members of the far right and so-called alt-right movements.
The video titled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” was originally published by Dumpert, a Dutch video portal, but was taken down at the request of Dutch police and the victim’s family after the perpetrator was named in the comments and arrested. At no point did Dumpert suggest that the attacker was Muslim or a migrant as claimed by Fransen in her tweet. A news report from the Dutch newspaper Telegraaf identified him as a 16-year-old boy from Monnickendam and made no mention of his religion.
However, the second clip, captioned “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”, does show a young man being thrown off a roof in a video that dates back to Egypt’s bloody summer that followed the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. The boy in the video was a teenage critic of the Muslim Brotherhood leader, and Mahmoud Ramadan, was prosecuted and hanged for his murder in 2015.
The third video entitled “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” shows Sheikh Omar Raghba smashing the statue in the Syrian village of Yakubiya in 2013, in the midst of the ongoing Syrian civil war. Raghba shares a strong resemblance to the Islamic State cleric “Sheikh Omar” interviewed by Japanese freelance journalist named Shamil Tsuneoka.
Donald Trump was already a controversial figure in Britain, and after this promotion of far right narratives from the Britain First, the calls to bar him from entry to the UK on for inciting religious hatred have amplified.
However, the real question is why Trump would choose this moment to distract the media by retweeting hate-speech. He has previously used Twitter controversies to try and deflect attention away from further announcements from the Mueller probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during last year’s presidential election.