This is a guest post by Beeman
Since leaving the EDL, Tommy Robinson has retained an active public profile. He now has 131k Twitter followers, co-leads PEGIDA UK, and often does interviews on radio or popular online talk shows.
There are multiple reasons to sympathise with Robinson. He has some valid concerns to voice having seen his hometown evolve into one of the very worst areas in the country in terms of Islamism, with Luton notably being the former base of the now banned Al Muhajiroun and a dozen Jihadists who have now travelled to fight in Syria.
Robinson has also received some utterly appalling treatment. He has talked of a terrible ordeal suffered at the hands of the police, whose motives in the way they have dealt with him were reportedly questioned by a judge recently, and has also been the recipient of very real death threats (five Osman warnings) and violent street attacks. He’s also had his concerns and grievances hostilely sneered at, ignored, been offered no empathy and told ‘it’s all his fault’ by some (particularly on the Left), who meanwhile are often all too happy to indulge and accept uncritically the narrative and alleged grievances from an Islamist group like MEND or someone like Moazzam Begg, with sins far greater and views far nastier. The double standard has long been pointed out.
However whilst all that might be the case, it is still worthwhile to examine some of the more dubious connections Robinson has made, as well as the views he has forwarded and promoted on his Twitter platform.
Robinson’s Twitter feed largely operates as a newsfeed of negative stories about Muslims. The issue here as so often happens with many ‘watch’ style sites scouring the web for news (this fully applies for sites watching ‘Islamophobia’ too), is thatthey seem to be highly prone to pushing stories which are exaggerated or even completely untrue.
Numerous false stories have appeared on Robinson’s timeline. Just a few examples include a ‘refugees refuse aid from the Red Cross’ story that was reported to be false. The ‘Muslims trying to ban Oktoberfest’ story, that came out as fake. The alleged ‘Muslim girl gang attacks sunbather for wearing bikini’ – that was also false. An article claiming the Labour Party plan ‘to introduce state funded Islamic schools in 2015’, a story only on extreme sites was confirmed to be made up. Or ‘top Saudi mufti issues fatwa allowing husbands to eat wives’ – again, also false.
Sometimes media outlets report news badly, and one could be forgiven for being misled. ButRobinson’s sources have included a vast array of Pamela Geller type sites or conspiratorial InfoWars type sites.
For example one site Robinson linked to last week and a few times before is an InfoWars style site called Speisa. A ‘site about the weird world we live in’ that specialises in reporting ‘really strange stuff’ that has featured headlines such as ‘Russia Orders Obama: Tell World About Aliens, Or We Will’ or ‘Pentagon has a plan for the Zombie Apocalypse’. Largely drawn from dodgy translations from obscure foreign language sources, their credibility has been often questioned for spreading false reports (they were reportedly the origin for spreading the ‘Saudi mufti allows husbands to eat wives’ story).
When you consider that sites like that or Shoebat have been tweeted out, you begin to suspect a more exhaustive search would find plenty more stories of questionable authenticity.
This may not be that big a deal, but it does reduce trust when it’s needed for genuine stories which there is no shortage of. Robinson also now has a platform where dubious news can spread. For instance he tweeted a ‘before and after’ image of Sadiq Khan’s wife, supposedly donning a hijab after having forgone it during the campaign to deceive, only for it soon to be pointed out it wasn’t Khan’s wife at all. That story despite being clearly false still found its way into Breitbart provocateur Milo Yiannopolous’ recent anti-EU speech.
Perhaps more concerning than falling for a dozen false stories, is some of the actual content Robinson has promoted. A number of well-known blogs on this topic have regularly featured on his timeline, but as well as sites like ‘Jihad Watch’ it has also included some of the more extreme elements as well.
One of the most prominent examples of this is a blog called The Muslim Issue, which usually copies and pastes negative stories about Muslims, together with an added paragraph of rants of varying lengths written by the site’s owner.
As is the case with many suchsites, they appear not to take much caution over forwarding some stories of more dubious veracity, but it’s the content of their own writing that is most extreme.
For example the articles from this site Robinson has linked to have among other things regularly and repeatedly stated that refugees/migrants should be shot.
‘Just shoot them at the border, it’s cheap, it’s efficient and it gives a clear message’ … ‘Illegal Muslim occupiers need to be shot’ … ‘start shooting at these intruders at border crossings’… ‘DEPORT ALL MUSLIMS FROM THE WEST … Give police and security permission to shoot these nasty fake asylum seekers’… ‘Shoot intruders who trespass sea borders’ … Eurocrats in Brussels need to be ‘executed in public’ and the military ‘need to shoot every asylum seeker’.
They’ve also written stuff like Angela Merkel needs ‘to face treason charges and be executed’, Or to ‘deport Muslims’ and ‘let them figure out what to do with their behavior and disease in that barren, ugly desert of theirs – as dry and lifeless as they are’. Or ‘Good news: this time they’re killing more of their own!’ in reaction to a British Muslim being murdered. Or alternatively strange anti-secular rants talking of ‘the beautiful Crusades’, ‘Christian supremacy and empire’ and ‘the spirit of Christian Militancy’.
Robinson has forwarded all of that and more, having linked to that particular site around 190 times. Meanwhile the official Twitter account of PEGIDA UK, the group he co-leads, forwards that site on automation, linking to it 220+ times so far this year. It’s hard to believe Robinson merely read the headline every time.
Most puzzling of all though, is the fact Robinson has linked to a video from a group calling itself ‘Order 777’, together with the comment ‘the video the media and establishment do not want you to see’. They appear to be genuinely nuts and people who anyone would want to distance themselves from. Robinson isn’t stupid, and even appears to know of these people, so why is he linking to their content?
Political associates and endorsements
Along with some dodgy sites, Robinson has retweeted some controversial political figures and speeches as well. For example, one he has shared is of refugees being described as ‘human garbage’ by Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, a man known for some utterly bizarre and extreme views on a number of topics.
Robinson has also brought into the white nationalist ‘white genocide’ conspiracy. He has tweeted about it, and is following some hardline ‘white genocide’ accounts, and another speech he has forwarded is one from a ‘friend of PM Orban’ Zsolt Bayer, talking about ‘white genocide’ and a ‘manufactured’ migrant crisis done by ‘invisible hands’ (coded language likely to be have been understood by his audience as liberals/Jews). Robinson may not have Googled this, but Bayer is of course well known for various vile views, including anti-semitic conspiracies of Jews doing ‘everything in their power to destroy the white Christian race’.
Domestically meanwhile, he has allied with a largely unheard of micro-party named ‘Liberty GB’, who are involved alongside him with the leadership and administration of PEGIDA UK.
This is a party whose best known stated policy appears to be a ban on any Muslim holding public office. Among other ideas they have put forward is a re-introduction of the death penalty for ‘traitor’ politicians’ like Tony Blair, who they compare in their memes to Lord Haw Haw and Nazi leaders. They have published articles stating Radovan Karadzic ‘is not a war criminal’ he is ‘a hero of the West who should’ve been acclaimed not condemned’. Or pursued conspiracy theories on Maajid Nawaz, labelling him an ‘expert taqqiya merchant’ and suggested he only de-radicalised for money.
Robinson has often come across reasonably in interviews and does have some legitimate points to make. But some of his other activity elsewhere do raise some questions, to say the least.
There is a contradiction between Robinson talking on interviews about making efforts to distance himself from being perceived or attracting any on the ‘far-right’, whilst so regularly having plugged articles from all manner of sites that few would describe as remotely near political centre ground.
Last weekend on Twitter, Maajid Nawaz encountered a PEGIDA UK supporter (who had Robinson as a follower) suggesting the expulsion all Muslims from the UK. Robinson doesn’t go along with this in interviews and is not responsible for others’ views, but when he’s tweeted out links suggesting migrants be shot or speeches where refugees are called ‘human garbage’, and even followsa number of such accounts, it can hardly be suggested that all is being done to deter that element.
Just as CJ Werleman cannot possibly be surprised at comments under his tweets from anti-semites, it cannot come as a surprise that many of those who crowd around tweets of articles calling for refugees/migrants to be shot are those with similar views.