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Trump's social media posts straining ties with Britain, experts say

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-12-03 16:59

WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump's latest social media posts, which triggered a heated quarrel between Washington and London, have put strain on bilateral ties.

Trump sparked global controversy in recent days after re-posting what critics say are anti-Muslim social media posts from a Britain-based far right group that allegedly depict violence carried out by Muslims. The authenticity of the videos in the posts has not been verified.

"Trump's (re-posting) of anti-Islamic videos has put a great strain on US-UK relationships," Brookings Institution senior fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

"He took material from a far-right organization and gave it great legitimacy at a delicate time as Britain is negotiating its exit from the European Union (EU)," West said, referring to England's break-off from the EU, a matter of controversy underscored by tensions between classes in England.

"The British Prime Minister has condemned Trump's actions and reprimanded him for giving extreme voices an international platform," West added.

The videos were originally posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of British far right group Britain First, who said the videos were from the Internet and did not provide the context under which the videos were shot.

The group has allegedly posted several misleading videos in the past, and the ones Trump shared on Twitter were called "Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!" "Muslim destroys a statue of Virgin Mary!" and "Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!"

"In (re-posting) those anti-Islamic posts, President Trump raised the profile of a radical far-right political group in the UK, and furthered the argument of radicals on both sides that Islam and the West are in a clash of civilizations," said Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of Congress and the Presidency.

Indeed, Trump's tweets have sparked a row between the White House and British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said Trump was "wrong" to re-tweet material from a group she described as spreading "hateful narratives."

"British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far-right which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents: decency, tolerance and respect," the prime minister's statement said.

Trump shot back via social media saying, "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," referring to recent Islamist terror attacks on locations within England.

The back-and-forth represents a rare spat between Britain and the United States, which are normally close allies, particularly in global activities against terrorism and Islamist radicalism.

"I don't think this will hurt US-UK relations in the long run because the two countries have strong ties. But Trump has to be careful not to create problems for his friends in other countries," West said.

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