A disturbing video recorded at an “alt-right” movement conference has not been well received by European leaders.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is concerned that white supremacists in the United States are being emboldened by the election of Donald Trump and is watching developments closely, senior officials have told Reuters.
The Berlin government declined to give an official reaction to a video circulating on the internet which showed members of the “alt-right” movement, a grouping that includes neo-Nazis, white nationalists and anti-Semites, meeting on Saturday in Washington a few blocks from the White House.
But one senior official close to Merkel described the video – which shows a speaker shouting “Hail Trump” and some audience members making the Nazi salute – as “repulsive and worrying”.
“I don’t think this is Trump’s ideology because he seems to be largely free of ideology. But these people are riding on his coattails. We are watching this very closely,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Yair Lapid, a member of the foreign affairs and defence committee in the Israeli Knesset, called the video “sickening” and “intolerable”.
“One of the greatest mistakes humanity ever made was a failure to recognise the danger of fascism early enough and tackle it head on,” said Lapid. “We cannot let history repeat itself.”
In the video, taken inside the conference and published by The Atlantic, Richard Spencer, a leader of the “alt-right” movement, says America belongs to white people, who he describes as “children of the sun”. He denounces the movement’s critics as “the most despicable creatures who ever walked the planet”.
“Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” Spencer shouts at one point as some members of the audience raise their arms in the Nazi salute.
Trump, who has been active on Twitter in recent days, has not commented directly on the meeting himself. It came days after he outraged many Democrats, rights activists and minority groups by appointing Steve Bannon, former head of a website linked to the alt-right, as his chief White House strategist.
A spokesman for the Trump-Pence transition team said on Monday that Trump “continued to denounce racism of any kind” and was elected to be “a leader for every American.”
He did however “condemn” Nazism during a meeting at The New York Times‘ offices in Manhattan on Tuesday when asked about people who pledged their allegiance to Nazism: “…I condemn. I disavow and condemn,” said President-elect Trump.