"I would certainly apologize if you'd like me to do that. I know nothing about them."— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 26, 2018
President Trump answers questions from Piers Morgan about retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by British far-right group Britain First. pic.twitter.com/JIJNqvRynt
Nearly two months after sharing a series of anti-Muslim propaganda videos, originally posted by the far-right British First party, President Donald Trump finally said he is willing to apologize for his actions that not only caused anxiety and incited hatred among people but also sparked a severe backlash against his administration.
Appearing in his first international interview in Davos, Switzerland, the commander-in-chief told “Good Morning Britain” host Piers Morgan he did not know whose videos he was retweeting at the time.
“It was done because I am a big believer in fight radical Islamic terror. This was a depiction of radical Islamic terror,” Trump said. “Perhaps it was a big story in Britain, but in the United States it wasn't a big story.”
The videos purported to show a group of Muslim migrants brutally beating a teenage boy to death, battering a boy on crutches and destroying a Christian statue. However, at least one of the videos was immediately debunked. The graphic clip appeared to depict a dark-haired Muslim boy assaulting a Dutch boy with blonde hair — even though, as it later turned out, both of the boys were Dutch and neither of them was Muslim.
“I guess, again I’m in the United States, so I didn’t read as much about it, perhaps it was a big story in Britain, perhaps it was a bit story in the U.K. But in the United States it wasn’t a big story,” Trump continued. “I am, as I say often, the least racist person that anybody’s going to meet. Certainly I wasn’t endorsing anybody.”
After Morgan told the president his retweets caused “huge anxiety and anger in my country, because Britain First is basically a bunch of racists, fascists,” he asked Trump if he would apologize, adding it would “go a long way in Britain.”
“If you're telling me they're horrible, racist people, I would certainly apologize if you would like me to do that,” the former reality TV star responded. “I know nothing about them. I don’t want to be involved with these people, but you’re telling me about these people because I know nothing about these people.”
Morgan hailed the words as “a stunning admission from the world's most powerful man” and went on to tweet what appeared to be slightly inaccurate description of what had transpired during the interview.
BREAKING NEWS:— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 26, 2018
President Trump has publicly apologised for retweeting far-right group Britain First.
Says he didn't know who they were. 'I don't want to be involved with these people. If you're telling me they're horrible racist people. I certainly apologise.' pic.twitter.com/S1apSWC7rR
People didn’t hold back from slamming Morgan for misquoting the president — given there is a huge difference between showing willingness to apologize than to actually saying sorry.
@piersmorgan intentionally misquotes Trump, saying he has apologized. Here is what @realDonaldTrump actually said:— Justin Etheridge (@ShanksponyRVA) January 26, 2018
"Here’s what’s fair, if you’re telling me they’re horrible people, horrible racist people I would certainly apologize if you would like me to do that." https://t.co/JxwsSMW4IC
Folks I didn’t hear Trump say he’s sorry. It’s reported he said, If they are racists, I certainly “would” apologize.— ChattaGirl (@chatta_girl) January 26, 2018
I wont call it an apology. “If you’re telling me they’re horrible racist people, I certainly apologize’ is NOT A FUCKING APOLOGY! Trump didn’t apologize https://t.co/WtdZaNpA9K— NoChillMood (@ritaag) January 26, 2018
Trump’s decision to retweet the videos sparked harsh criticism from people across the world — and, despite Trump's perceptions, was a big story in the U.S. as well as worldwide.
“I hope our government will condemn far-right retweets by Donald Trump,” Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, had said at the time. “They are abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May had also denounced the president endorsement of those Islamophobic videos.
“It is wrong for the president to have done this,” she said. “This causes anxieties to law abiding people. The British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudice rhetoric of the far-right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents; decency, tolerance and respect.”
Britain First styles itself as a political party and makes calls to its supporters to join the “British resistance” for the “future” of British children. It has largely been condemned by civil rights activists as a far-right hate group for its “invasions” of mosques.
Last year in August, police arrested and charged its leader Paul Golding, 35, and his deputy Jayda Fransen, 31, for using threatening and abusive rhetoric and behavior after their speeches at a Northern Ireland Against Terrorism rally.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Denis Balibouse