What is Britain First, and what it stands for

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Hate groupsWhat is Britain First, and what it stands for

Published 30 November 2017

Early on Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos — one of them fake — which had earlier been posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the vehemently anti-Muslim British hate group Britain First. Fransen was convicted last year by a British court for harassing a woman wearing a hijab – in front of the woman’s children. Here is a brief backgrounder of Britain First and its history.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Early on Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos — one entitled “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”; the second entitled “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” — and the third entitled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” – which had earlier been posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the vehemently anti-Muslim British hate group Britain First. Fransen was convicted last year by a British court for harassing a woman wearing a hijab – in front of the woman’s children.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The third video was fake: Dutch law enforcement said that the “migrant” in the video was not a Muslim migrant at all, but a Dutch teenager who was sent to jail for his actions. The White House spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Wednesday that it made no difference whether the videos were real or fake: The important thing, she said in her daily briefing, was that they drew attention to the risks Muslim immigration posed for Europe.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Trump has a history of disseminating, amplifying, and appearing to endorse the messages of various racist, bigoted, and white supremacist y hate-groups (see Jennifer Mercieca,

mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>There’s an insidious strategy behind Donald Trump’s retweets,” The Conversation [29 November 2017], and Peter Beinart, “Trump’s Anti-Muslim Political Strategy,” The Atlantic [29 November 2017]). He has been praised by the leaders of these groups – among them the KKK’s David Duke; the

mso-bidi-language:HE”>alt-right white supremacist Richard Spencer; and Fransen herself – for using the White House imprimatur to legitimize and mainstream their organizations’ extremist, racist positions.

The ADLsays offers a brief background on Britain First
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”> based on information from Hope Not Hate, an organization based in London.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Origins of Britain First


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Britain First (BF) is a populist, far-right, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant group founded in 2011 by former members of the British National Party (BNP), a far-right political party with neo-Nazi sympathies. BF is estimated to have about a thousand members. It was founded by Jim Dowson and Paul Golding in Northern Ireland. Dowson was known for his fervent religious views (he had trained to be a Calvinist minister) and his stance against Islam. Golding was closely associated with Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP from the late 1990s until 2014.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Current leadership


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The group is currently led by Paul Golding who has made the BF the leading U.K.-based anti-Muslim, “counter-jihad” street movement. Jim Dowson left the group in 2014. Jayda Fransen, a Roman Catholic activist, is now the deputy leader of BF.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Ideology


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The founders of BF hoped to fill a vacuum left by the decline of the BNP and the splintering of the English Defense League (EDL), a virulently anti-Muslim hate group. BF sees itself as a Christian “army” preparing to confront Muslims directly at their homes, mosques, and in the streets in order to elicit a violent reaction from the Muslim community. According to a report by the British anti-hate group, Hope Not Hate, some activists in Britain First actually attended a series of bloody “fight clubs” and a sports academy overseen by ex-military personnel to get “military training” in order to carry out their activities.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Tactics


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>In May 2013, two Muslim converts murdered a British soldier, Lee Rigby on the streets of South London. They had been allegedly radicalized by Anjem Choudary founder of the radical Muslim group, Al Muhajiroun. After this incident, Golding issued a video warrant warning that BF would arrest Choudary if they could find his address. The groups also targeted other Muslim radicals in their homes. They launched “Christian Patrols” and intimidated Muslims in east London.    The group also has “invaded” mosques. In August 2016, Golding and Fransen were banned from entering Luton and, later, all mosques and Islamic centers in England and Wales. In 2016, Fransen was charged and convicted of intimidating a Muslim woman. That same year, Golding was charged with entering premises in Wales despite a court order preventing him from doing so. He was sentenced to eight weeks in prison for breaking the court order.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Spreading propaganda


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>BF’s street demonstrations are relatively small. The group has used social media to spread its anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant propaganda on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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