By Zeb Holmes and Ugur Nedim
The videos purport to depict Muslim men committing acts of violence on religious or moral grounds, but the credibility of those claims has since been destroyed.
A video said to depict Muslim refugees assaulting a Netherlands girl because of her ‘western attire’ was shown to be a fake, with Dutch police finding no reason to connect the incident to religion or dress.
Donald Trump previously shared the videos, but even he has since apologised.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called on Senator Molan to apologise for sharing the videos, which are clearly intended to incite hatred against Muslims.
“They are repugnant. I think it is up to Senator Molan to repudiate the views which he shared and, I think, to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Mr Shorten said.
But rather than apologise, Molan told reporters he was “unwise” not to “clean” his social media account, defiantly adding that “the reason that I didn’t do that is because I saw nothing wrong with that”.
“Call me naive but I didn’t know that Britain First was the kind of organisation that on occasion it has proven to be,” he told the media. When asked if he made an effort to find out the group’s background before sharing the content, the senator replied: “Nope, I did not.”
Donald Trump also claimed not to have known about Britain First when he shared their posts, prompting a rebuke from Theresa May.
Trump later stated, “If you’re telling me they’re horrible people – horrible, racist people – I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that”.
Not a bigot
Mr Molan is a decorated former major-general, who was appointed the chief of operations for coalition forces in Iraq in 2004.
He quickly raised his credentials in an attempt to defend accusations of bigotry. “I put my life on the line for Islamic countries,” he told the media. “For people to come out now and say that this is racist, or is anti-Islamic, I find deeply offensive.” Others have pointed out that engaging in operations against Iraq – founded upon misinformation about supposed ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – is a dubious way to defend accusations of bigotry.
Molan has already been criticised by the Australia Defence Association for politicising his army record. The former general has a large banner of himself in uniform displayed at the top of his official senator Twitter and Facebook account.
“It’s a breach of convention and he should know better,” stated Neil James, the executive director of the ADA.
Mr James explained that Molan’s act contravenes the non-partisan convention that the ADF should be kept independent and politically neutral.
On May 4, 2017, Molan retweeted a supposedly humorous post that read: “Exam. I was asked to name two things commonly found in cells. Apparently ‘young Muslims’ and ‘Somalians’ were not the correct answers.”
In 2016, Tom Angel, a top official with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, resigned after being heavily criticised for forwarded emails with a similar bigoted joke. The only difference was the words ‘young Muslim’ and ‘Somalian’ were replaced by ‘black’ and ‘Hispanic’.
And archived posts show that Molan shared articles with headlines such as ‘AUSTRALIA: Fury over development plans for a Muslim-only ‘NO GO Zone’ in Brisbane’ and ‘ITALY: Government orders small towns to find space to house and feed 250,000 African Muslim freeloaders in 2017′. The second article refers to “third world Muslim invaders”.
“Charming. And we’re meant to be tolerant, accepting and welcoming of this ‘breed’ in our country,” one commenter said of one of the Facebook videos, to which Molan replied “unbeleivable” (sic).
A terrorist organisation
“Britain first, keep Britain independent, Britain will always come first,” Thomas Mair was heard yelling as he stabbed and shot Labor MP Jo Cox to death at the height of the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016.
Jo Cox’s widower, Brendan Cox, has since repeatedly warned about the dangers of legitimising Britain First content through social media.
“When you drive hatred it has consequences, people lose family members. I am testament to that,” Cox explained. “Those who excuse and encourage the hatred of Britain First and their ilk are doing the work of the terrorists for them. Elected politicians cannot claim ignorance and must not be allowed to walk away from the effects of their actions.”
Marek Zakrocki was subsequently imprisoned for driving his car at an Indian restaurant owner in north London. Zakrocki told police, “I’m going to kill a Muslim. I’m doing it for Britain.” Zakrocki was a donor to Britain First and had the organisation’s flyers at his home in Harrow.
And after British man Darren Osborne drove a van into Muslim worshippers, he declared that he wanted to “kill more Muslims”. Woolwich Crown Court heard how the unemployed father-of-four became “obsessed” with far-right material published by former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson and by Britain First.
As stated by Katherine Murphy, “There really isn’t a grey area where it’s OK to endorse some propaganda from Britain First but say you don’t like Britain First. You can’t say I don’t like racists and white supremacists and then share their material.”
In this context, many believe Molan’s actions are not only indefensible but that his refusal to apologise suggests he is unsuitable for the position of senator.