The State Department reportedly feared that President Donald Trump’s tweeting of videos depicting violent acts committed by Muslims would spark protest at embassies across the Middle East.
Officials at Foggy Bottom relayed concerns to the White House that the tweets could gin up a violent reaction similar to the one that hit several embassies in response to an anti-Islam video posted to YouTube in 2012, reports CNN. The Middle East embassies, most of which already operate under enhanced security measures, were on high alert throughout the day, according to State Department officials.
“It didn’t manifest in anything actionable, but it was a big concern,” a department official told CNN. “We saw in Cairo and other places that simply posting something on the internet, even if nothing was intended by it, could have real consequences.”
Trump retweeted Wednesday three videos from the Twitter feed of Jayda Fransen, a member of the far-right, anti-Muslim Britain First party. The videos purported to depict Muslims attacking people and destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Critics including British Prime Minister Teresa May condemned Trump for disseminating the videos and him of inciting racial and religious hatred. The president pushed back Wednesday night, admonishing May to “focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.”
As The Daily Caller News Foundation has previously reported, Fransen is a leader of Britain’s national front movement, which promotes ethnic and religious nationalism. Britain First claims it is not racist, but opposes political Islam and mass migration because they are “a danger to the British people,” according to the group’s website.
It is not clear if the White House was aware of Fransen’s account or confirmed the authenticity of the videos before Trump retweted them. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that Trump’s tweets had highlighted a real problem, even if the videos were posted without context.
“Whether it is a real video, the threat is real,” Sanders told reporters during the White House press briefing. “That is what the President is talking about, that is what the President is focused on is dealing with those real threats, and those are real no matter how you look at it.”
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