At a time when Muslims are being targeted for harassment and violence by xenophobic white Christians in the U.S., Europe, and all over the world, the president is retweeting heinous videos meant to demonize Muslims, ignoring the fact that he now represents the Muslim American citizens experiencing racism and abuse right here in the U.S.
Trump has now vaulted their original poster, Jayda Fransen, to viral status on Twitter. Within a few hours of Trump’s retweets took Fransen from around 52,000 followers to nearly 58,000 in the space of just a few hours.
It’s been an eventful year for Fransen, who is the First Deputy of a radical alt-right group in England called Britain First, which is frighteningly similar to Trump’s campaign slogan “America First.” In September of 2016, Fransen was convicted of targeted religious harassment when she first verbally assaulted a woman wearing a hijab and then ripped it from her head in front of the woman’s child. Since then, Fransen has risen to fame among white Christian extremists in England.
Like the alt-right neo-Nazis whose rallies led to the death of 33-year-old Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, Britain First is the face of hatred and violence against the Islamic religion just as Nazis targeted the Jewish religion with Adolf Hitler as their leader.
‘Britain First is anti-Islam, anti-immigration and nationalist political party. Fransen was found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment in September 2016 after making the comments to a stranger during a “Christian patrol” in Bury Park, Luton, in January 2016.’
According to Newsweek, the Britain First group that Fransen belongs to includes members who have even targeted elected leaders for violence in acts of terrorism equally as deplorable as any other.
‘In June 2016, Tommy Mair shouted “Britain First” before shooting dead British parliamentarian Jo Cox near Leeds in West Yorkshire. Britain First denied any connection to Mair. Cox’s husband, Brandan Cox criticized Trump Wednesday morning for legitimising far-right politics.’
These are the groups that have risen to prominence and been legitimized by the U.S. president. With a base of similarly-minded people as Jayda Fransen and Britain First, Trump’s refusal to denounce the alt-right makes much more sense.
Those who recognize the anti-Muslim extremism of groups like Britain First in Trump’s close friends and advisers like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller have spoken out in outrage against a president who has emboldened hate groups and have found themselves the target of ire by the president and his rabid fan base. Painted as being equally violent and hate-filled as the alt-right, those who march against this form of terrorism and xenophobia have been ignored by those in power and mocked by the people who elected them.
They ignore how much these groups echo a frightening past in which members of a particular religion were slaughtered by the millions by those claiming to be Christians fighting the evil Jewish scourge. How much closer does the country need to come to repeating these patterns before they’re identified as leading America, and the world, down a dark, dark path?
Featured image via Getty/Daniel Leal Olivas