London mayor hits Trump over anti-Muslim videos
The mayor of London slammed President Donald Trump on Thursday for retweeting anti-Muslim propaganda from a British far-right party, and suggested UK Prime Minister Theresa May shouldn’t welcome Trump into their country for a state visit.
The statement from Sadiq Khan adds another notable voice to the growing list of leading British officials who have expressed outrage over Trump’s retweets, which have created an international incident and opened a rift between the US and its closest ally.
Khan, who is Muslim, called Britain First, the far-right party Trump retweeted on Wednesday, “a vile, extremist group that exists solely to sow division and hatred in our country.” He added that the videos make it “increasingly clear that any official visit at all from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed.”
Trump caused outrage in Britain by retweeting three videos posted by Jayda Frandsen, the deputy leader of Britain First. The inflammatory videos showed people purported to be Muslims carrying out assaults and, in one video, smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary.
“Many Brits who love America and Americans will see this as a betrayal of the special relationship between our two countries,” Khan continued. “It beggars belief that the President of our closest ally doesn’t see that his support of this extremist group actively undermines the values of tolerance and diversity that makes Britain so great.”
Following Trump’s retweets on Wednesday, a spokesperson for May said Trump was “wrong” to share the videos.
Trump took aim at May following the statement, tweeting: “@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”
On Thursday, a spokesperson at Downing Street said May is standing by her criticism of the President, but said the offer of a state visit seems to be on track.
“The Prime Minister is very clear that it was wrong to tweet those videos,” the statement said. “But the US is one of our longest, closest and most trusted allies. The offer of a state visit has been extended and accepted. Further details will be set out in due course.”
British Ambassador to the US Kim Darroch said Thursday he raised his concerns about the tweets to the White House.
“British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right, which seek to divide communities & erode decency, tolerance & respect. British Muslims are peaceful and law abiding citizens. And I raised these concerns with the White House yesterday,” Darroch tweeted.
Trump and Khan have frequently traded barbs since Trump decided to run for president.
In 2016, Khan said Trump “has ignorant views about Islam.” Trump proceeded to challenge Khan to an I.Q. test, adding that the mayor had never met him and “doesn’t know what I’m all about.”
In another notable exchange earlier this year, Trump appeared to misconstrue a statement by Khan in the mayor’s response to a terror attack in London.
“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'” Trump said.
Khan, however, was referring specifically to a visible increase in police activity on the streets of London in the wake of the attack.