We’re still adjusting to the shock, this morning, of seeing that Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, had deemed it fit to retweet not one, not two, but three anti-Islamic videos posted by the convicted criminal Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the ultranationalist group Britain First.
Now, of course, perhaps it shouldn’t be a shock, given Trump’s continual courting of the far-right in America, including his refusal to turn down either the support of the Ku Klux Klan, nor his reaction to events in Charlottesville in August, where he claimed that there was “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides” instead of condemning the neo-Nazis and White Supremacists responsible for the flashpoint.
But this is the first time that Trump has waded directly into an endorsement - and there can be no other way to interpret the retweets than that - of an extreme far-right party in the UK, with people responding in horror to his actions.
Prime Minister Theresa May said, via a Downing Street spokesperson: “It is wrong for the President to have done this”, while leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn posted this tweet:
I hope our Government will condemn far-right retweets by Donald Trump. They are abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 29, 2017
But what of the contents of the original tweets themselves?
The videos are entitled: ‘Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!’, ‘Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary’ and ‘Muslim Migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches’.
It now transpires that, as is so often the case with racist, inflammatory images or videos, the title is completely misleading. It has emerged that the attacker seen in the video is neither Muslim, nor a migrant.
The incident happened on 13 May 2017, and the video was posted on the Dutch video site Dumpert, which led to the attacker being arrested a day after. He was a 16-year-old Dutch boy from the town of Edam-Volendam - not a Muslim, and not an immigrant.
As Dutch site geenstijl.nl puts it: “But hey, those facts in particular do not form a barrier for The Donald when he wants to ram a mini-series of muslim-critical retweets as an awakening ritual… No Muslim. No migrant. #FakeNews.”
Below is the tweet president Trump retweeted.— Harald Doornbos (@HaraldDoornbos) November 29, 2017
But according to Dutch media, culprit wasn't a Muslim. Also not a migrant. But a 16-year old Dutch boy from town of Edam-Volendam.
He was arrested on May 13th 2017, one day after the incident happened. https://t.co/A8Mpjg2TSA https://t.co/DNDIZ7NSBn
Meanwhile, the video ‘Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!’ originates in 2013, when a young man was pushed off the roof of a building in Alexandria, Egypt. It was part of a wave of violence which followed in the wave of the ousting of president Mohamed Morsi, with the attacker, Mahmoud Ramadan eventually being hanged for the murder in 2015.
Of course, would it even matter if attacker in the Dutch video had been Muslim, or an immigrant?
No, because, like anyone else, Muslims and immigrants are capable of criminal acts, and of violence.
But, of course, racists such as Fransen and, it seems, Trump, will never tire of trying to use isolated incidents, real or otherwise, to try to label, demonise and persecute an entire group of people.