Who is Jayda Fransen, the combative far-right street protester retweeted by Trump?
President Trump used his huge Twitter platform Wednesday to share several Islamophobic tweets sent out by Jayda Fransen, a top official in the ultranationalist Britain First political group.
The videos retweeted by the president claim to show violence committed by Muslims, but Britain First “is known for spreading Islamophobic and racist videos, many of which were proven to be fake,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the US civil rights and anti-hate organization. The SPLC describes Britain First as an “anti-Muslim and racist group.”
Here are a few facts about the woman who Trump retweeted.
1. She is the deputy leader of Britain First
Fransen, 31, took the leadership role in the group in 2014. She led the group for eight weeks last year after one of Britain First’s founders, Paul Golding, was jailed for violating a court order barring him from entering mosques. Golding has a history of arrests for assaults and other violent acts as part of his campaign against Muslims and immigrants.
During a rally in Wroclaw, Poland, this month, Fransen said, “There is a cancer moving through Europe and that is Islam,” the Guardian reported. She spoke “alongside the firebrand anti-Semite ex-priest Jacek Miedlar,” according to the SPLC.
2. She has her own history of legal troubles, including a conviction for ‘religiously aggravated harassment’
Fransen was fined nearly 2,000 pounds last year after the conviction, which followed her arrest for “shouting at Sumayyah Sharpe during a ‘Christian patrol’ of Bury Park in Luton,” an English town north of London, on Jan. 23, 2016, the Independent newspaper reported. Sharpe was wearing a hijab and was out walking with her four children at the time of the verbal assault.
The Independent reported that “Fransen admitted telling Ms Sharpe that Muslim men force women to cover up to avoid being raped ‘because they cannot control their sexual urges,’ adding ‘that’s why they are coming into my country raping women across the continent.’ ”
Fransen and Golding were also banned under a police injunction from entering the city of Luton for three years.
Fransen and Golding are also awaiting trial on charges of religiously aggravated harassment over leaflets they distributed in Kent, England, in May. And this month, Fransen was arrested over an August speech in Belfast and was “charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour at the Northern Ireland Against Terrorism Rally,” the Independent reported.
3. She has lost two elections
Fransen ran for Parliament in 2014 for a seat representing part of the city of Kent. She came in ninth of 13 candidates and won 56 votes out of a total of 40,065 cast. (A member of the right-wing nationalist UK Independence Party won the seat with 16,867 votes.)
She also ran for the London Assembly in 2016 as part of Britain First’s slate of candidates. The group won 1.5 percent of the ballot, 39,071 votes out of 1.05 million cast. (Golding won 1.2 percent of the vote in the mayoral election on the same day. The winner of the mayoral election was Sadiq Khan, the first member of an ethnic minority to win the seat and the first Muslim to become the mayor of a major Western capital.)