Nicola Sturgeon has said it is “hard to not conclude” that Donald Trump is a racist.
Scotland’s first minister also said the US president appears to be more interested in polarising those rallying against police brutality.
The protests have been in response to George Floyd, who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.
Earlier this week, Mr Trump said he would send in the army if cities failed to deal with violent protesters.
Answering a question from Radio Clyde and Radio Forth listeners about whether Mr Trump is a racist, Ms Sturgeon said: “I think sometimes it’s hard to not conclude that.
“What I always say when I’m asked questions like that is I can’t see inside his head.
“I’ve been asked that before about comments Boris Johnson has made about Muslims and do I think he’s a racist.
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“It’s not an unwillingness to confront the issue, I don’t know what goes on inside Donald Trump’s head – maybe that’s a good thing.
“But, I do know that the language you use and how you express yourself matters.
“If you don’t want to be accused of racism, then don’t use racist language.”
She added that if you do not want to be accused of racism then you should not “sound” as if you are equating people who protest against racism with those who take to the streets to try to perpetrate racist values and attitudes.
Ms Sturgeon said that, at times like these, a leader needs to try to bring people together and heal the divide by addressing the underlying issues, implying Mr Trump is doing the opposite and is further polarising the American people.
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She said that, with no malice, she does not know if Mr Trump is capable of that type of leadership – but this is the moment to prove that he is.
The first minister added that the UK should also be looking in the mirror as no country is immune from racism or does not have issues of racial injustice and inequality.