You might be surprised Trump retweeted Britain First – but as a Muslim who grew up in Luton, I'm not

When Trump began targeting Muslim communities with his Muslim ban policy, some of us who had to live through the constant street marches of the EDL and Britain First had heard it all before

Basit Mahmood
Wednesday 29 November 2017 15:41 GMT
Donald Trump criticised for Britain First retweets

Shock, horror, disbelief: those are the words being used across social media to describe the fact that Donald Trump has been retweeting the far-right deputy leader of Britain First, Jayda Fransen. Specifically, he retweeted three anti-Muslim videos which had been previously shared by Fransen, who has been sharing news stories about the American President’s sudden interest in her all day.

How could it be that the President could associate himself a person who has been convicted of religiously aggravated harassment after “hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab” and who has a track record of spreading hatred and fear?

The answer is because these are very similar to the values that Donald Trump himself embodies, in spite of all those who have sought to normalise what he says and play down his far-right beliefs.

When you’ve witnessed Britain First march through your hometown – as I have in Luton – shouting abuse at Muslim communities, telling them that they don’t belong, and intimidating and surrounding women with headscarves, then it doesn’t at all come as a surprise that the current occupant of the White House would sympathise with such a group.

For me, Trump’s rhetoric is merely an extension of what far-right groups had been saying years earlier. As far as I’m concerned, he and the far right are one and the same. A group with such an ideology has in Trump an ally with his finger on the nuclear button.

When Trump began targeting Muslim communities with his Muslim ban policy, some of us who had to live through the constant street marches of the EDL and Britain First had heard it all before. That’s why it was so difficult for people like myself to differentiate between what Trump’s policies towards Muslims were – surrounded as he was by people like Steve Bannon, whose worldview included an impending end-of-times battle between the West and Islam – and what far right groups like Britain First believe.

Treat Muslim communities as the “other”, deny that they belong, seek to smear an entire community and claim that all are guilty by association: these are the same tactics that Trump and Britain First employ.

Trump's far-right Islamophobic retweets raised in parliament

Watching Trump’s campaign to be President was like watching the same groups who had held intimidating marches through our town run for the most powerful office in the world; Trump, therefore, is their natural bedfellow. The main difference between Trump and Britain First, of course, is that people associated with Britain First – most notably Fransen herself – have been arrested and convicted of hate crimes. That’s why it sends out such a powerful message when the current resident of the White House seemingly endorses Fransen on Twitter.

Both Trump and Britain First also share a penchant for “fake news”; President Trump, of course, claims to rally against it, even when the objective facts prove that he is wrong. At least one of the videos that Trump has retweeted from Jayda Fransen which purportedly shows a “Muslim migrant beating up a Dutch boy on crutches” has proven to be fake. Authorities tracked down the “Muslim migrant” only to find that he is neither Muslim nor a migrant.

Those who sought to deny then Trump was anything like the far right, or those who claimed he would amend his views and behaviour and be influenced by the more moderate forces around him in the Republican Party, have been proven wrong once again. How long will we placate ourselves with these evidently false narrative before we take serious action against such a hateful president?

I was saddened to see Trump retweet a far-right group which relies on fake news stories to spread hatred and fear of migrant and Muslim communities, but I wasn’t surprised. Given that the President of the United States has aped their very rhetoric and tactics to propel him into the White House, how on earth could I be?

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in