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'It's a small group of people': Trump again denies white nationalism is a threat

Donald Trump said he does not view white nationalism as a rising threat around the world, as New Zealand is reeling from a white supremacist attack on two mosques that killed 49 people.

Asked by a reporter on Friday if he sees an increase globally in the threat of white nationalism, the US president responded: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess, if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s a case. I don’t know enough about it yet.”

There have been more than a dozen deadly white supremacist attacks across the globe in the last eight years, and violence by far-right attackers has surged since Trump took office.

There has been a documented rise in anti-Muslim hate groups in the US in the last three years, and the FBI has reported a steady increase in reports of hate crimes. Just last year, a shooter with far-right views killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

The suspected perpetrator of the massacre during Friday prayers in New Zealand had been posted online before the attack and displayed white supremacist symbols on his weapons during the killings.

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, described the carnage as one of New Zealand’s “darkest days”.

Ardern on Saturday told reporters she did not agree with Trump’s assessment that white supremacy isn’t a problem on the rise.

Ardern also said she had spoken to Trump following the attack in Christchurch. Responding to a question from the president about what he could do after the attack, she asked him to show all Muslim communities “sympathy and love”.

“He acknowledged that and agreed,” Ardern said.

Ardern said she and Trump did not discuss reports that the suspect, Brenton Tarrant, had mentioned the president in an anti-Muslim manifesto he posted online before the attacks.

Trump made the remarks about white supremacy at the Oval Office while announcing his decision to overrule Congress in his effort to protect his declaration of a national emergency and secure funds for a US-Mexico border wall.

Announcing his veto, the president said, “People hate the word invasion, but that’s what it is.”

Trump’s claims about immigration trends and an “invasion” are similarly unsupported by facts. Unauthorized border crisis have declined dramatically since record highs in the early years of the 21st century.

Trump, who infamously proposed a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US during his 2015 campaign, has a history of sparking widespread criticisms for his response to far-right violence.

In 2017, he said there were “very fine people on both sides” after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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