In March 2009 the people of Luton gathered in the streets of their hometown to show support for the returning soldiers of the Royal Anglian Regiment who had just completed a tour of duty in Helmand Province. The gathered crowd represented a cross section of cultures, communities and political persuasions. Many of these spectators were opposed to the war in Afghanistan but supported the courage and commitment of the individual soldiers nevertheless. One of these people was a local 27 year old tanning salon owner named Steven Yaxley-Lennon.
Also in attendance was a Luton based Islamist group named al-Muhajiroun founded by Muslim hate preachers Anjem Choudhary and Omar Bakri Muhammed. This group was also opposed to the war in Afghanistan and greeted the homecoming soldiers of their town by spitting at them, by waving obnoxious placards, by booing, hissing and jeering, and by bellowing accusations of infanticide.
Appalled by this behavior and concerned by the steadily increasing problem of Islamic Extremism in his hometown, Yaxley-Lennon founded a counter-protest called The United People of Luton which would go on to become one of the largest street protest movements in the history of the UK; the English Defence League. Using the pseudonym “Tommy Robinson”, Lennon would lead his group of protestors up and down the country and appear on numerous media platforms highlighting the threat that Islamic extremism poses to the UK and the world at large.
Tommy recognized a total lack of government willingness to tackle the fundamental issues he and many others saw as posing a significant threat to national security and intercommunity relations. Concerned with what the future held for the next generation if this culture of denial, apathy and relativism continued, he decided that if nobody else would draw attention to this problem and demand action from the government, he would step up to the plate and do so himself.
Fast forward to present day.
On Monday 4th January 2016 Tommy Robinson held a press conference for his new organisation; Pegida UK. The purpose of the event was to introduce the new leadership team of Anne Marie Waters and Paul Weston, and to explain that the intent of the group is to peacefully and silently protest over the Islamisation of the United Kingdom beginning with a Europe-wide demonstration next month. Less than 48 hours later, Robinson was re-arrested for an alleged assault last year at HMP Peterborough in which he punched a fellow inmate who he was told was conspiring to attack him with what is known in prison as ‘napalm’ (boiling sugar-water.) Robinson had previously been arrested over this incident but the charges were dropped.
I mention this as a postscript to Robinson’s new book Enemy of the State, which details a frankly astonishing litany of shameful and brazen attempts by the police and the state to silence Robinson, to disrupt his activities and to make his day-to-day existence as unbearable as possible.
The book is a very interesting and entertaining read. It’s informative. It’s self-deprecating. It’s honest. And it’s frequently very funny until you remember that this is somebody’s life being deliberately turned upside down due to his vocalisation of rather widespread political opinions and concerns. That he can retain a sense of humour about this in the face of such appalling and flagrant mistreatment is a testament to his strength of character.
Robinson writes like he’s sitting next to you in a pub telling you anecdotes from his life. As such, the timeline of events jumps around a fair amount but never to the point of confusion and it actually makes for an interesting structural style which keeps you on your toes and teases at events to be revealed more fully at later points in the book.
He covers a few biographical details and he touches on his childhood experiences in Luton before jumping into the meat of the story, the formation of the English Defence League and the effects it had on his life.
It goes without saying that Tommy took it upon himself to bring attention to Islamic extremism at great risk to himself and to his family. The fact that speaking out against issues inherent in fundamentalist interpretations of a religious and political ideology should be a potentially life threatening endeavor is worrying yet depressingly predictable, and it is for this reason that his adoption of an alias and his wearing of a balaclava were an unfortunate necessity.
Tommy faced harassment, persecution and physical violence from all angles. Muslims turned up to fight with EDL supporters. Supposed Anti-Fascist groups did the same. He came under fire from extreme right-wing groups for his opposition to Nazism and by extreme leftwing groups for his opposition to Islamism. He was repeatedly branded as a racist, a bigot and an “Islamophobe” and continually had the legitimate concerns he raised dismissed, ignored and misrepresented.
He is honest about his faults, his mistakes and the regrets he has concerning his time in the EDL – namely how his blameless family have suffered as a result of the baggage such a movement brought with it. There is a particularly moving section of the book in which Tommy shares his misgivings on the price paid by his wife and children, and contemplates his potential shortcomings as a father, while languishing in a solitary confinement cell. I think Tommy is overly hard on himself sometimes and for someone who has displayed such a level of bravery and commitment to handing down a safe and prosperous Britain to subsequent generations, this, in my opinion, is one of those times.
That’s not to say that Tommy is without his faults. Is anybody? And the book is not without its faults either. It sometimes reads a little like one of those “hard bastard” autobiographies with titles like The Guv’nor and Chopper. There are a few spelling and formatting errors. There is no index or bibliography, and one story regarding the desecration of Christian graves in Longsight, Manchester is unintentionally misleading. However this doesn’t detract from the main thrust of the story, which is the abuse he’s suffered by the British authorities.
Robinson has been the victim of a sustained campaign of police and state persecution, the details of which genuinely beggar belief. These events are recorded in great detail in the book and represent nothing less than a relentless political campaign of cruelty and mistreatment at the hands of the very state that he continually puts his life on the line trying to protect.
For years he has “retweeted” the innumerable death threats he receives on Twitter even though he was threatened with prosecution for doing so due on the grounds that it apparently causes distress to others. He has in fact, been arrested for replying to a death threat against him and all the while without a single arrest of anybody threatening violence against Robinson or his family, regardless of how many times he has presented these correspondence to the police.
He has been assaulted and hospitalized on a number of occasions with one attack leaving him with bruising on the brain.
He has been attacked at least twice in the presence of TV cameras which filmed the incidents and broadcast them on mainstream media. Again, no arrests of the culprits.
He has been issued with a number of Osman Warnings which are designed to make the recipient aware of a genuine threat of murder, yet has been repeatedly thrown into prison wings populated by violent Muslims serving life sentences, on one occasion being locked alone in a room with some of them who proceeded to occupy themselves by kicking his teeth out.
He has been locked in solitary confinement, ostensibly for his own safety, for periods significantly longer than those deemed by psychologists to cause lasting mental damage.
He has had his finances frozen and the financial history of him and his family thoroughly scrutinized in a desperate attempt by the police to find some kind of irregularity to use as an excuse to imprison him.
He has had been given license conditions completely unrelated to the crime for which he was convicted, preventing him from contacting members of the English Defence League whilst being on license for a mortgage fraud case that he was essentially blackmailed into pleading guilty to.
The list goes on and on and I haven’t even begun to touch the surface here. Bedfordshire police, prison authorities, probation officers and the hierarchy of British authorities have left virtually no stone unturned in their relentless harassment, bullying and unconscionable neglect in their duty of care of Robinson – a man who represents a scapegoat for the governments lack of ability or willingness to tackle the issues of Islamic extremism that he confronts on a daily basis.
In the meanwhile, the issues and concerns that he has consistently been raising on the subject of Islamic extremism and Muslim immigration have been coming to pass all over the world. It’s genuinely difficult to think of somebody who has been more thoroughly vindicated in his predictions than Robinson. Yet, whether you agree with his political opinions or the manner in which he expresses them is irrelevant. It is readily apparent that he has been methodically and comprehensively victimised by the powers that be for purely political reasons, and these offenses to freedom, justice, equality and decency should be of paramount concern to all of us.
In summary: this is an incredibly frustrating, unsettling yet riveting story of one man’s battle with enemies on every side and I thoroughly recommend it if for no other reason than to disseminate the cold hard truth, that if Tommy Robinson can be treated like an Enemy of the State, then so can you.
*I urge you to sign this petition calling for an independent review into the treatment that Tommy Robinson has been subjected to by the British authorities: