US President Donald Trump today slammed London’s Pakistani-origin mayor Sadiq Khan saying it was not the time to be “politically correct”, and touted his controversial Muslim travel ban in view of the London Bridge terror attacks that killed seven people and wounded nearly 50. “We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse,” Trump said.
In a series of early morning tweets, Trump lashed out at Khan, who reportedly suggested there was no reason for alarm after three attackers drove a van into crowds on London Bridge and then went on a stabbing rampage in nearby Borough Market. “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'” he said. “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck!”
He was referring to a statement by the London mayor in which Khan said he was “grieving” for the victims and insisted that terrorists “would not win.” But the statement available on the official website of the London mayor did not use the phrase “there’s no reason to be alarmed,” which Trump referred to in his tweet to criticise the Pakistani-origin mayor.
Later, a spokesman for Khan said the London mayor would not respond personally to Trump’s “ill-informed” tweet. “He has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks urging Londoners not to be alarmed when they saw more police – including armed officers – on the streets,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman said Khan “is busy working with the police, emergency services and the government” to co-ordinate the response to the cowardly terrorist attack. Earlier, the US president also used the London attacks to promote and urge for support to his proposed travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries.
“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the travel ban as an extra level of safety!” Trump told his 31.4 million Twitter followers. The Justice Department last week asked the US Supreme Court to reinstate Trump’s executive order banning travel to the US from six Muslim-majority nations while it appeals a lower-court ruling that upheld a nationwide block on the ban.
Trump through the order had banned visa issuance to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. He also retweeted a tweet from conservative news website Drudge Report which said that there were fears of new terror attacks ahead of the general election in the UK on June 8.
Meanwhile, US Department of Homeland Security said it was “closely monitoring” the situation in the UK. “We are working with our inter-agency partners and foreign counterparts to gain further insight into reported attacks against civilians on London Bridge and in the surrounding areas.”
The Homeland Security secretary has been briefed on the incidents and the response, it said in a statement, adding they were in contact with and stand ready to assist the UK. The issue of inter-agency cooperation had made headlines last month when British Prime Minister Theresa May complained to Trump about leaking of intelligence to US press about the Manchester bombing that killed 22 people at a pop concert.
US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert condemned “the cowardly attacks” targeting innocent civilians in London. “The US stands ready to provide any assistance authorities in the United Kingdom may request,” she said in a statement.
Other American leaders also condemned the London Bridge terror attack – the third such incident in three months. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said, “We stand resolute with our friends in London and send prayers to the victims. Terror and hate will never triumph.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “My heart is with the people of London, the victims of this string of terrorist attacks, and their families.”
“We stand in solidarity with the United Kingdom. Terrorism must not prevail,” said Congressman Ted Poe. Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster tweeted, “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of London and all of the UK.” Congressman Eliot L Engel, ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the US “must stand ready to help our ally track down the perpetrators and swiftly bring them to justice.”
Congressman Joe Crowley tweeted: “Horrified by news out of #London. My prayers are with the victims & their families, first responders & the British people. #LondonBridge.” “My heart and soul go out to London tonight. America stands with the people of Great Britain and the victims of the #LondonBridge attack,” tweeted Senator Dianne Feinstein.