President Donald Trump retweeted several anti-Islam propaganda videos posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of far-right Britain First group, on Nov. 29. Now, months later, Fransen’s been thrown in jail.
Jayda Fransen and Britain First are well-known in the United Kingdom and Ireland for spreading Islamophobic and racist content online.
Today, Fransen and another member of Britain First, Paul Golding, were found guilty of “religiously-aggravated harassment” after distributing leaflets at a trial where three Muslim men were convicted of rape
Fransen was found guilty of three charges, while Golding was convicted of one. The judge, Justin Barron, said their actions “demonstrated hostility” towards Muslims. Fransen was sentenced to 36 weeks in jail. Golding received 18 weeks.
Fransen previously reacted to Trump’s endorsement of her videos by tweeting, in all caps: “God bless you Trump! God Bless America!”
She was suspended from Twitter.
If this is the first you’re hearing of Fransen or Britain First, here’s what you need to know.
What is Britain First?
Britain First, founded in 2011, is a far-right political group that embraces an anti-Islam, anti-immigration, and a nationalist agenda, with a logo that bears the slogan “taking our country back.”While it is difficult to know exactly how many people are part of Britain First, its official Facebook page has nearly 1.8 million followers, but it is no longer recognized as an official political organization in England.
The group is highly controversial and in the past has gone on “Christian patrols” in London in which they harass people in majority Muslim neighborhoods. They have also been known to do “mosque invasions,” where they hand out anti-Islam documents during Muslim prayer.
According to the group’s mission statement published online, Britain First wants “our people to come first, before foreigners, asylum seekers or migrants,” and claims “Christianity in Britain is under ferocious assault.” The group is fiercely anti-immigration, stating: “Immigration is spiraling out of control placing unsustainable demands upon this country’s resources, with healthcare, housing, and the environment are all being seriously damaged by these unbearable and unfair burdens.”
The mission statement also makes it clear the group has an anti-Islam platform: “The rapid growth of militant Islam is leading to the suppression of women, freedom of speech and racist attacks.”
In June 2016, MP Jo Cox was assassinated by a man whom eyewitnesses said shouted “Britain first” as he shot and stabbed her. The group has denied involvement in the assassination. Brenden Cox, Jo Cox’s husband, condemned Trump’s retweets of Fransen’s video posts on Wednesday, saying “the president should be ashamed of himself.”
Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself.
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) November 29, 2017
Even InfoWars, the far-right conspiracy theory website, was suspect of Trump retweeting videos posted by Britain First. “Yeah, someone might want to tell whoever is running Trump’s Twitter account this morning that retweeting Britain First is not great optics,” InfoWars British Editor at Large Paul Joseph Watson wrote.
Who is Jayda Fransen?
Jayda Fransen, 31, is the deputy leader of Britain First and has a history of making inflammatory comments. She has been the deputy leader of the group since 2014.
Her Twitter page has 58,000 followers. Several of her recent posts, including the ones retweeted by Trump, have an anti-Islam slant. Her remarks echo similar ones made by Trump–including his call for a “Muslim ban” of immigrants entering the country and his steadfast stance on building a wall along the southern U.S. border. On Tuesday, she wrote “Halal slaughter should be outlawed in Britain! Comment below if you agree….” Earlier this week she wrote, “Immigration is out of control…close the borders!”
Fransen was arrested earlier this year and found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment after she verbally assaulted a Muslim woman wearing a hijab in front of her young children, according to the Guardian. She is also scheduled to appear in court in Ireland in December after being charged with using threatening and abusive language during a speech she made in August, the Sun reports.