The latest series of tweets posted by U.S. President Donald Trump has gained more media traction than any other public statement given both by him and the White House, and have ignited a fierce debate in the British Parliament and resulted in a public scold by the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.
On November 29, tweets containing videos posted by Jayda Fransen were retweeted by President Donald Trump. The three videos, all of which depict violent acts committed by Muslim men, were posted by the deputy leader of “Britain First,” a far-right political party based in the U.K.
The videos lacked any context or explanation, and seem to be posted with a rather obvious agenda – to show the violence committed by Muslims and the threat they pose to the U.K.
President Donald Trump’s retweets also lacked any context or additional information and were met with an extremely negative response from both ends of the U.S. political spectrum.
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However, the biggest backlash came from the U.K., where the far-right fringe group is continually accused of promoting hate speech and instigating violence against Muslims.
While on a visit to Amman, Jordan, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May gave a rare public admonition to U.S. President Donald Trump, declaring that he was “wrong” to share anti-Muslim videos posted online by a “hateful” British far-right group.
“I’m very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do. Britain First is a hateful organization. It seeks to spread mistrust and division in our communities. It stands against common British decency,” she said when asked about Trump’s actions.
According to CNN, Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the U.S., revealed he had expressed his concerns over the affair to the White House after an unprecedented amount of criticism Trump received in the U.K. Parliament. “British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right, which seek to divide communities & erode decency, tolerance & respect,” he wrote in a post on Thursday. “British Muslims are peaceful and law-abiding citizens. And I raised these concerns with the White House yesterday.”
According to the Guardian, Speaker John Bercow stated that he would block the President from addressing both Houses of Parliament if he visits the U.K. Labor MP Mary Creagh said President Trump was “not welcome here,” while Labor party leader Jeremy Corby has called for the U.K. government to take a tougher stance on President Trump’s tweets, calling them “abhorrent” and “dangerous.”
Despite the fierce criticism, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May faced after extending the invitation for a state visit to President Trump, she told CNN that the invitation has been accepted and that a date is expected to be set soon. However, with more than 1.8 million British citizens petitioning for Donald Trump not to be invited to make an official State Visit, it seems most likely that a finite date for the visit will not be set anytime soon.
No support from the U.S. either
Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement that Trump is “clearly telling members of his base that they should hate Islam and Muslims.” The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted, ”Trump’s prejudice against Muslims reveals itself at every turn — with today’s tweets meant to gin up fear and bias.”
And while most media outlets tend to paint a rather over-exaggerated picture of Donald Trump, accusing him, without any evidence other than a blatant dislike of his politics, of promoting hatred towards religious and ethnic minorities, his latest tweets have made any arguing on his behalf a Sisyphean task.
After receiving a huge amount of media traction, the videos retweeted by Trump were quickly traced and identified as being three separate occasions of violent acts filmed outside the U.K. With all of the videos originally posted by Jayda Fransen containing no information on their location, and having what the media has described as “inflammatory” titles, it’s not that much of an overstretch to say that their intent was to distort the public’s perception of Muslims.
However, the videos have since been traced to three separate locations – Egypt, Syria and The Netherlands – and the context behind them has been clarified.
One of the videos showed a mob throwing what appears to be a young man off a roof. As reported by Fox News, the video was filmed during a military overthrow in Alexandria, Egypt, in 2013, and showed a violent altercation between supporters of two different political parties. Egyptian media had confirmed that the man involved in the violent act had been sentenced to death and executed in 2015.
Another video shows a Muslim Imam smashing the statue of the Virgin Mary. The Middle East Media Research Institute reported on the incident in October 2013 and identified the man in the video as being Sheik Omar Ragba, a known supporter of the Nusra Front, Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate.
The last video shows one young man attacking another young man on crutches. Jayda Fransen titled the video “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!,” but the Netherland Embassy to the U.S. stated that the perpetrator of violent act in the video was a Dutch citizen and that he “received and completed his sentence under Dutch law.”
An outrage that connects people
While it’s highly unlikely that the highly polarized left and right in the U.S. will manage to find common ground on unresolved issues such as tax reform, healthcare and immigration, a shared distaste for President Donald Trump might move both parties just a little bit closer to the center of the political spectrum.
Being able to find common ground, be it President Trump’s tweets, public remarks, or changes to state policy, has the potential to create an open line of dialogue between democrats and republicans.
Donald Trump’s use of Twitter is considered unprofessional by politicians both left and right. With his tweets often being labeled as “purposefully inflammable,” it’s not hard to see that the outrage he manages to spark with his words is not an isolated outburst of anger, but a carefully calculated strategy. His tweets paint the complex world of foreign policy, diplomacy and military operations as being simple binary decisions that can be settled on a whim.
The naïve way in he portrays most of his presidential decisions is an extremely powerful tool that can be used to manipulate public perception and cause mass outrage. Despite his tactics being obvious to many, the vast majority of the population, both in the U.S. and around the world, is very easily influenced by the identity politics Donald Trump propagates.
His use of Twitter is the most efficient way to achieve that. The newly introduced 280-character format allows him to put out twice as much content in a single tweet, giving the public and the media what seems to be an endless supply of material to work with.
Trump’s Twitter is a perfect example of how little it takes for the world to overlook the political turmoil and notably uncertain policy changes happening in the U.S. A slight reduction in the amount of information the President shares of social media has the potential to change the digital news landscape we are seeing today. However, those changes being for the better is not something we can fully count on.