President Trump’s long-delayed visit to Britain to meet Prime Minister Theresa May is scheduled for July 13. Meanwhile, it was only last month he had warmly received French President Emmanuel Macron in Washington.
But despite the outward appearance of warm ties with Britain and France, traditionally two of the United States’ strongest European allies, Trump managed to stoke outrage and anger in both London and Paris this weekend — and he did so with a single speech.
Addressing the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas on Friday, the president cited the rising number of knife attacks in Britain while speaking in support of gun rights in the United States.
“Knives, knives, knives,” Trump added as he made a stabbing motion.
The French Foreign Ministry released a statement on Saturday that expressed its “firm disapproval” of Trump’s remarks about the attack and called “for respect for the memory of the victims.” Gérard Araud, the French ambassador in Washington, highlighted one passage in the statement that said statistics on gun crime supported France’s current laws.
Trump last visited Paris in July 2017; he is due to visit London for the first time as president later this summer. His visit to Britain has been a controversial topic and is widely thought to have been delayed because of the threat of protests.
However, the comparison is less revealing that it may seem: New York City has experienced a dramatic drop in murders over the past decade, and its murder rate is now at a historic low. A spokeswoman for London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Reuters last month that while he was concerned about violent crime, “our city remains one of the safest in the world.”
In his interview, Griffiths suggested that colleagues at the hospital had compared their work with victims of knife and gun crime to previous experience at Camp Bastion, a former British military base in Afghanistan. “Some of my military colleagues have described the practice here as similar to being at Bastion, which is a very worrying comment to hear,” Griffiths said.
There was also anger from families affected by knife and gun crime. One woman, whose 20-year-old daughter was shot dead in 2003, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that she was “horrified and offended” by Trump’s comments and that since he made the remarks on Friday she had received a number of phone calls from other families affected by knife and gun violence who felt the same.
And despite his brief praise for “great guy” Macron during his speech on Friday, polls from France suggest a similar view of Trump in that country: One survey conducted in November found that 68 percent of the country said they had a negative view of the U.S. president.