Facebook has banned a number of pages associated with the street marching and activism group Britain First, a week after the leaders of the organisation were convicted of religiously aggravated harassment in an English court.
Britain First leaders Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding both had their accounts, and that of Britain First itself, permanently removed Wednesday for having “repeatedly broken [Facebook’s] Community Standards”.
The social media giant said Wednesday in a blog on their website called ‘Taking Action Against Britain First’ that:
Content posted on the Britain First Facebook Page and the Pages of party leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen has repeatedly broken our Community Standards. We recently gave the administrators of the Pages a written final warning, and they have continued to post content that violates our Community Standards. As a result, in accordance with our policies, we have now removed the official Britain First Facebook Page and the Pages of the two leaders with immediate effect.
Facebook emphasised that they had not taken this decision lightly, and defended their position, stating: “There are times though when legitimate political speech crosses the line and becomes hate speech designed to stir up hatred against groups in our society.”
Britain First Leaders Convicted of ‘Racially Aggravated Harassment’ https://t.co/nxVAdky39a
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 7, 2018
The Guardian newspaper reports that the Britain First page had around two million accounts following it at the time of the suspension.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan welcomed the news of Britain First being removed from Facebook, saying in a statement: “Britain First is a vile and hate-fuelled group… Their sick intentions to incite hatred within our society via social media are reprehensible, and Facebook’s decision to remove their content is welcome.”
Fransen and Golding were both jailed this week for 36 and 18 weeks respectively after they were convicted of religiously aggravated harassment. The case against the pair related back to a series of leaflets and online videos they distributed about an ongoing gang rape court case in Canterbury, Kent.
The pair were convicted of religious harassment directed towards the defendants in the rape case, and a number of other individuals not directly related to the case. The four men involved in the rape trial, Tamin Rahmani, 37, of Ramsgate, Shershah Muslimyar, 20, of Canterbury, Rafiullah Hamidy, 24, of no fixed abode, and Hamid Mohamadi, 18, from Wye were found guilty of three counts of rape in May 2017.
Four Afghans, including one asylum seeker, have been found guilty of gang raping a lost 16-year-old girl in Kent. https://t.co/FRmV6m3qAj
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 29, 2017
Britain First co-leader Fransen came to global attention in 2017 after a number of tweets she made claiming to highlight Muslim violence were re-tweeted by U.S. President Donald Trump.
In one video, a man throws a statue of the Virgin Mary to the floor, causing it to smash into pieces. In another, a man is thrown off the roof of a building. The caption reads: “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”
Fransen responded positively to the attention, writing “God bless you Trump! God bless America!” and appending the message with an abbreviation reported to mean ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers.”