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Trump re-tweets boost membership, claims UK far-right group

Press Trust of India  |  London 

A British far-right group at the centre of a major diplomatic row between the US and the has claimed that President Donald Trump's re-tweets of their anti-Muslim videos had provided a boost to their membership base.

First, estimated to have a membership of just around 1,000, said it had received hundreds of membership applications in the 24 hours after the US President was seen to endorse three of its videos on Twitter.

British Prime Minister had described the group as a "hateful organisation that seeks to spread division" and said that Trump was "wrong" to have re-tweeted their messages.

"We have had hundreds of new membership applications and our organic reach [number of unique users] has increased by hundreds of thousands," First leader Paul Golding told 'The Times'.

The page of the organisation, a far-right group founded by former members of the far-right British National Party (BNP), has also been gaining supporters at a rate of more than one per minute since the US President's re-tweets earlier this week.

The group's deputy leader Jayda Fransen had earlier claimed that the sharing of her tweets by Trump amounted to an endorsement and pleaded with the US President to intervene in her forthcoming court case over using threatening and abusive language during an anti-Muslim speech at a rally in Belfast in August.

The 31-year-old, who is on bail for religiously aggravated harassment, said in a video posted online: "On behalf of myself and every citizen of and for every man and woman who has fought and died for us to have freedom of speech, I am appealing to you for your help".

The videos in question allegedly show an attack on a Dutch boy on crutches by a "Muslim migrant".

The other two, from 2013, showed a Syrian sheikh destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary and a man said to be linked to the Muslim Brotherhood throwing someone from a roof in Egypt.

On being branded as "wrong" to have forwarded the videos, Trump had hit back at personally for criticising him with a follow-up Twitter message directed at her 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!".

During an urgent House of Commons debate yesterday over the row, British MPs called the US President fascist and stupid, accused him of "spreading evil" and said that he was "racist, incompetent or unthinking or all three".

They demanded that the British Prime Minister cancel a proposed state visit.

While the formal government line remains that "an invitation for a state visit has been extended and has been accepted", there are reports that a shorter "working visit" by Trump in early 2018 to open a new US embassy building in London may be the first to be hit as a result of the diplomatic row.

The trip, a scaled down version of a full-fledged state visit with no meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, was intended to allow Trump to come to the while avoiding mass protests.

But those plans have now been thrown off-track with the escalating Twitter row.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, December 01 2017. 21:00 IST