US President Donald Trump has apologized for the first time for retweeting a British far-right group’s anti-Muslim videos, in an ITV interview aired in Britain on Friday.
“If you’re telling me they’re horrible racist people, I would certainly apologies if you’d like me to do that,” he told Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan during the interview, conducted in Davos on Thursday.
Trump sparked outrage in Britain in November when he retweeted, in quick succession, three anti-Muslim videos posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First who was in 2016 convicted of religiously aggravated harassment of a Muslim woman.
Morgan accused Trump of causing “huge anxiety and anger in my country, because Britain First is basically a bunch of racists, fascists”.
“Of course I didn’t know that,” Trump responded in excerpts of the interview aired Friday.
“I know nothing about them (Britain First), I know nothing about them today, other than I read a little bit.”
“Perhaps it was a big story in the UK, but in the United States it wasn’t a big story,” Trump added.
“I did a retweet. When you do those retweets they can cause problems because you never know who’s doing it to start off with,” the president told Morgan.
Trump’s retweets were leading several major British news websites Wednesday morning, and officials condemned him on Twitter. A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Trump was “wrong” to share the videos, adding that “Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions.”
Fransen was found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment in November 2016 after abusing a Muslim woman wearing a hijab while she was with her four children. She was fined by the court and ordered to pay costs.
In a separate development, Fransen was also charged over using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior” during a speech she made in Belfast in Northern Ireland. She is set to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court on December 14.