The videos purportedly show Muslims committing violent crimes ― but, like many things on social media, they are misleading. One video, captioned “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” depicts a boy beating another boy. But the video’s original caption on a Dutch website does not mention race or religion, and local media reported that the 16-year-old pictured in the video was not actually a migrant.
The British government denounced Trump for casually retweeting Fransen’s posts. Downing Street said the U.S. president was “wrong” to retweet videos from a group that “peddles lies” and is “overwhelmingly rejected” by the British public.
Trump has a track record of stoking Islamophobia. Nearly a year before he won the presidential election, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” following deadly terror attacks in California and France.
Trump followed his proposal with an email to reporters in December 2015: “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
Trump did not distinguish between fringe groups of violent extremists and the rest of the world’s nearly 2 billion Muslims.
Several months later, he declared, “I think Islam hates us” in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. He went on to say that his objection was to radical Islam, but added: “It’s very hard to define. It’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.”
The president’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has hampered his efforts to impose a travel ban on non-visa holders from several countries, including five with majority Muslim populations. The Trump administration has claimed the proposal doesn’t constitute a “Muslim ban,” though Trump has called it one. And judges have pointed to the president’s numerous Islamophobic comments to question the ban’s legality.
“There is nothing ‘veiled’ about a press release titled ‘Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,’” U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson wrote in March.
During his campaign, Trump liked to tell an apocryphal story about an American general shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood. He also made the dubious claim that he saw “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey “cheering” as the twin towers fell, failing to note that Muslim Americans lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 attacks, too.
Trump additionally suggested that the mother of a fallen Muslim American soldier wasn’t allowed to talk while her husband spoke at the Democratic National Convention. And Trump’s inauguration in January included prayers from a pastor who thinks Islam is “evil.”
After a Muslim American man killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Trump called for increased surveillance of mosques and warned that radical Muslims were “trying to take over our children.”
Early on in his presidency, Trump surrounded himself with a number of known Islamophobes, including former national security aide Sebastian Gorka and former political adviser Steve Bannon. Trump’s pick for national security advisor, Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn ― who was fired after 24 days on the job ― called Islam a “cancer” and said fear of the religion was “justified.” Senior Trump adviser Frank Wuco has claimed that Muslims “by and large” want to “subjugate” non-Muslims.
Trump’s comments have been accompanied by growing Islamophobia and a rise in anti-Muslim incidents in the U.S., which last year reached the highest levels since the period immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Last year, a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center showed that the number of anti-Muslim groups in the U.S. had tripled in 2016.
Meanwhile, the president has been largely silent on attacks on Muslims, demonstrating a double standard in how he reacts to acts of terror.
After a man participating in a white supremacist rally drove a car into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, this August, killing a woman, Trump insisted that he needed to know the facts before making a statement.
But mere hours after an Uzbek immigrant inspired by the self-described Islamic State killed eight people by plowing a pickup truck down a bike path in lower Manhattan in October, Trump was already tweeting about ISIS and about placing heavier restrictions on the country’s immigration system.
In a November segment of “The Daily Show,” host Trevor Noah summed it up by saying: “When it was a Nazi, Trump needed more facts. When it was a Muslim, that was the only fact that he needed.”