LONDON — Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the fringe Britain First party, whose anti-Islamic posts were retweeted Wednesday morning by President Donald Trump, appealed directly to Mr. Trump in a one-minute long video posted hours later to help keep her out of jail.
The She is due in court next month to face charges of using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior” in a speech she gave over the summer in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
During that the August rally in Belfast, Fransen declared Islam “the biggest threat to civilization across the world.”
“We are at war with Islam. The world is at war with Islam. Jihad and Islam are one and the same,” Fransen said, going on to disparage the Muslim holy book, before telling her gathered supporters that, “every single Muslim is obliged to kill you, and your husbands and your wives and your children… Islam says that every single one of you wonderful people here today, deserves to be killed.”
Fransen insists that everything she said was protected free speech, and that her arrest over it is evidence that “Britain has become sharia-compliant, and our establishment have now instituted legislation that constitutes blasphemy laws.”
“I am appealing to you for your help,” she said in her Wednesday night video addressed to Mr. Trump. “I am appealing for your intervention before I am thrown in jail, and others receive the same treatment, for simply speaking out. God bless you, President Donald Trump.”
In 2016, Fransen was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment for shouting at a Muslim woman during one of her group’s so-called “Christian patrols” through neighborhoods with large Muslim populations. Fransen admitted telling the Muslim woman that men of the faith force women to cover up to avoid rape, “because they cannot control their sexual urges,” adding: “That’s why they are coming into my country raping women across the continent.”
The president’s retweets of Fransen were raised as a point of order Wednesday in the British Parliament, where Yvette Cooper reminded her fellow lawmakers that Fransen, “has indeed already been convicted of hate crime” in the U.K.
“Given the significance and the seriousness of the president of the United States giving her such a huge platform,” she called on ministers to condemn Mr. Trump’s actions.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesperson said in a statement that it was, “wrong for the president to have done this.” The statement added:
“Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people. 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.”
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labor party tweeted, “I hope our government will condemn far-right retweets by Donald Trump. They are abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society.”
Mr. Trump was dismissive of the British government’s reaction, urging May to “focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom” instead, adding, “We are doing just fine!”
Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Sarah Hukabee Sanders argued that, regardless of the veracity of the videos tweeted by Fransen, Mr. Trump’s retweeting of them was merely intended to show his determination to secure the U.S. and its borders in the face of the threat from Islamic extremism.
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah also defended the president’s retweets, saying Mr. Trump has consistently prioritized national security, including through his travel order.
Shah’s response to a reporter’s question aboard Air Force One, however, undermined the government’s repeated argument to challenges against its various travel ban versions that they always insisted had nothing to do with religion. U.S. courts have shot down previous versions of the travel ban because they were perceived as discriminatory based on religion.
“Does President Trump think Muslims are a threat to the U.S.?” a reporter asked.
“The president has addressed these issues with the travel order that he issued earlier this year, and the companion proclamation,” Shah said. “There are plenty of Muslim-majority nations whose citizens can come to the U.S. without travel restrictions. But those that pose public safety or terrorism threats, for our worldwide security review that was overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, is why there were certain travel restrictions put in place.”
The White House transcript of the conversation states that Shah said, “No,” before the rest of his comment, although that was not picked up by the audio recordings.
Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan — the city’s first Muslim mayor — added his voice on Thursday to calls for Mr. Trump’s state visit to the U.K. to be canceled over his retweets of Fransen’s posts.
Khan accused Mr. Trump of promoting “a vile, extremist group,” and said an official state visit to Britain “would not be welcomed.”