Archbishop of Canterbury urges Trump to remove his Britain First retweets and says they are un-Christian

Justin Welby takes to social media to criticise both the far-right group and US President

Wednesday 29 November 2017 19:39 GMT
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Getty)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on Donald Trump to remove his retweets of far-right group Britain First.

Justin Welby took to social media to criticise the group, who he described as “not sharing our values of tolerance and solidarity”.

The head of the Church of England also accused Britain First, which claims it aims to protect “British and Christian morality”, of “dividing communities and intimidating minorities”.

Mr Trump shared videos posted by Britain First's deputy leader Jayda Fransen's account, which claimed to show “Muslim migrants beating up a Dutch boy on crutches”.

A second re-post was captioned “Muslim destroys statue of Virgin Mary”, while a third read “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death”.

Rev Welby said: "It is deeply disturbing that the President of the United States has chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists. Britain First seeks to divide communities and intimidate minorities, especially our Muslim friends and neighbours. Britain First does not share our values of tolerance and solidarity.

"God calls us as Christians to love our neighbour and seek the flourishing of all in our communities, societies and nations. I join the urgent call of faith groups and others for President Trump not just to remove these tweets, but to make clear his opposition to racism and hatred in all forms."

Mr Trump's retweets were met with widespread criticism, including that from Theresa May who described the tweets as "wrong".

A spokesman for Downing Street said: "It is wrong for the President to have done this."

However, asked if the US leader's scheduled state visit to Britain would still take place, despite the tweets, the spokesman said: "The United States is one of our oldest and closest allies. An invitation for a state visit has been extended and accepted. Further details will announced in due course."

The content of the videos that Mr Trump shared or their origin could not be independently verified, but local reports said the first showed the 2013 murder of a teenager who was himself likely to be a Muslim during riots over the coup against Mohamed Morsi.

The attacker in the video from the Netherlands was neither a Muslim nor a migrant, according to local media and was arrested over the incident.

The White House defended the unverified, Islamophobic videos and said Mr Trump was driving home an important point – regardless of if they are real or not.

"Whether it's a real video, the threat is real," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. "His goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security."

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