This morning, the President of the United States apparently retweeted several videos from Britain First, a move that was widely condemned. Yet if you’re an American, you may not be familiar with Britain First. So, here’s what you need to know about the group’s ugly history and uglier ideology.
- It was founded by a man fired from another British far-right party for sexual harrassment: Specifically, Jim Dowson, a low-level member of the British National Party, an openly fascist organization, groped a woman and was dismissed for his behavior. Keep in mind, the BNP is so far right that Holocaust survivors have spoken out against it.
- And then the group became too extreme even for him: Dowson quit in 2014 when Britain First began deliberately invading mosques and attempting to force Bibles on Muslims attempting to worship. Britain First disputes this, to the point of publishing a letter they claim Dowson wrote.
- They have a history of harassment: In addition to the mosque invasions, members of the group have turned up at the houses of people they claim are involved in terrorism, have run “Christian patrols” through neighborhoods that are majority Muslim (and emptied cans of beer on the steps of mosques), and insisted Jesus was pro-violence, earning them a denouncement from every Christian denomination in the country.
- This extends to social media: The group has called Afghanistan’s first policewoman Malalai Kakar (who was killed by the Taliban) a terrorist, has faked videos of Muslims “celebrating” terror attacks, and sent death threats to politicians campaigning to classify the group as a terrorist organization.
- While they deny any association, one of their followers may have murdered British politician Jo Cox: Cox, who supported Britain’s membership in the EU, was murdered by a man who screamed “Britain First” during the act. While the murderer had no real role in the party, it did raise questions about the propaganda the party spreads on Facebook and the toxicity of its platform.
- Jayda Fransen, the woman Trump retweeted, has a history of arrests: Franson was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment, and slapped with a restraining order, after she screamed at a random woman in the street for wearing a hijab and has threatened to hang people she doesn’t like on Facebook.
Why, precisely, Trump is retweeting videos from this group is a question best left to others. But Trump, who’s shown unfortunate sympathies in the past, will likely find himself having to explain not only how he found these videos, but why he would put support behind such a group.