President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters he does not believe we’re witnessing a rise in white nationalism around the world when answering questions about a mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand.
Trump was asked, “Do you see today white nationalism a rising threat around the world?”
“I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess,” the president replied. “If you look what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet … But it’s certainly a terrible thing.”
The man who claimed responsibility for a mass shooting at two mosques that left 49 people dead in Christchurch expressed fervent white nationalist beliefs in a manifesto, which also praised Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” The suspected shooter reportedly wanted to “avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.”
The White House has rejected the notion Trump has anything to do with the shooting, describing the implication as “outrageous.”
Statistics from the FBI, as well as recent research from various organizations, suggest that white nationalism is on the rise both in the US and abroad, contrary to Trump’s comments on Friday.
Trump, who famously pushed for banning all Muslims from the US during his 2016 presidential campaign and implemented a watered-down version of that proposal as president, declared that he’s a “nationalist” in October.
“You know, they have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist,” Trump said at the time. “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist.”
The president also continues to face criticism for blaming “many sides” for deadly neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.