It may be easy for some to dismiss the incarceration of Tommy Robinson for filming outside of one of England’s ugliest, most widespread child grooming trials as punishment bestowed upon a man deserving of it. Robinson, founder of the English Defence League, a group whose stated mission is to lead and inspire in the struggle against global Islamification, is one of the most polarizing figures in media.
But, regardless of whether you find him to be a bigot taking unfair aim at one particular religion or a concerned citizen whose personal experience has reinforced his own view that Britain is rapidly devolving into a nation separated from its identity, his case sheds light on issues of media censorship, legal double standards, and alarming apathy from government toward the public’s wellbeing that has plagued Britain far before Robinson became a public figure.
Robinson has had brushes with the law in the past, though his supporters would say that he is under constant scrutiny as the result of his keenness for spreading an anti-Islamic message far and wide. Such a message, does, after all, fall within the confines of free speech (by traditional standards), though it undoubtedly also falls under the theoretical umbrella of ‘hate speech’, which often is a synonym for ‘justified criticism’.
These hate speech laws are the statutes by which Tommy Robinson has most often gotten himself into legal trouble. It’s plain for all to see that Robinson is of the fervent belief that Islam, with the exception of moderate Muslims, has an insidious quality to it, with intolerance at the root of his misgivings about the religion. This view, in and of itself, falls under the UK’s hate speech statutes as they are currently defined:
‘A person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, or displays any written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, is guilty of an offence if—
(a) he intends thereby to stir up racial hatred, or
(b) having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby.’
Since Islam is associated overwhelmingly with ethnic groups originating from the Middle East, the vagueness of such a law mean that Robinson could be arrested at practically any time. The statues cover such a broad array of speech that it cannot be argued such laws aren’t a clear step towards silencing criticism of a given culture or religion, criticism which is a fundamental tenet of truly free speech.
One doesn’t have to agree with Robinson. He’s proven willing to engage in debate with those who disagree, of which there are many. But, for any law to silence critics of any so-called religion, from Christianity to Scientology and everything in between, is an injustice to be hotly contested by those who understand the history of authoritarianism.
It’s also undeniable that, in the Western world and the Middle East, no religion is afforded more protection by the law than Islam. Even when the most heinous of activities are committed with case-closed levels of evidence to rule out innocence, the UK in particular has proven hasty to suppress and even silence coverage of such criminality when the defendants are of Middle Eastern origin and/or Muslim faith.
Alarmingly, the UK’s most high-profile cases involving such defendants has historically involved child grooming and sex rings, a reality which Robinson has been unwilling to cease shedding light upon. In fact, it was the most recent case of child grooming in Britain which Robinson was covering when he was placed under arrest.
The Rotherham child grooming scandal has led to the discovery an astonishing, appalling 1,510 victims thus far. Just consider the unprecedented magnitude of this case.
Over a 16-year period – an unbelievably long period for such a criminal ring to be in operation, and yet another indictment of Britain’s law enforcement priorities – children were subjected to ghastly circumstances, and police routinely ignored first-hand testimony and other signs that should have sparked an investigation:
‘Sarah (mother of a victim) said she repeatedly called the police but no proper action was taken and on occasions her daughter and the family were themselves "blamed".
"Some officers would say [to her daughter]: 'What do you keep going back for, you must like what you are doing.'
"I was absolutely appalled, absolutely disgusted." (BBC)
According to a Rotherham Borough Council report, children as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities in England, beaten and intimidated. That’s the least of it…
‘The inquiry team found examples of "children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone".’ (The Guardian)
What makes the matter one pertaining to religion is that the majority of the defendants were Pakistani Muslims, which make up a significant portion of the Muslim population in the UK.
Speculative yet credible explanations for law enforcement seemingly ignoring, overlooking, or flubbing inquiries into the sex ring – which resulted in at least one girl being trafficked to Pakistan – range from political correctness (avoiding the appearance of racism), to minority voter loyalty (primarily by Labour party MPs), to a law enforcement and court system which has apparently lost its sense of relative criminal proportion.
Who, in their right mind, believes that this case is not warranting of as much media scrutiny as possible? What judge believes that arresting those inquiring about the goings-on of the trials, considering the charges, should be subject to over a year of prison time?
British judges, apparently, a group whose history of granting media protections to those accused of similarly heinous crimes is shamefully consistent. And, it’s not only accused pedophiles of Muslim faith who are seemingly protected. The Westminster pedophile ring uncovered the 1980s offers a telling glimpse into how child sex crime cases have, for whatever reason, been mishandled in England historically. It just happens that, of late, most child grooming cases have been linked to majority defendants of Middle Eastern origin and Muslim religion.
And, it appears as if judges are more intent on preserving the privacy of such defendants than informing the public of updates pertaining to trials which could not be of greater interest to the public welfare. If the protection of children is seemingly on a lower priority rung than the protection of accused child sex traffickers, can we not all acknowledge that there’s a serious problem?
Apparently not. Robinson has been put in jail on a 13-month jail sentence related to previous charges of ‘breaching the peace’ based on similar circumstances, a sentence which is considered by many to be likely condemnation to death. The judge who levied the sentence has ordered a media blackout on Robinson’s own case, too.
Even Muslims such as Iran’s Imam Tawhidi, the self-proclaimed ‘Imam of Peace’, sees the issue as protecting men who are almost certainly guilty of child sex trafficking at the expense of one who was simply filming the proceedings from the sidewalk outside of the courtroom, all in the name of political correctness, genuine and feigned.
‘I’m a practicing Muslim and a third-generation Imam. I’ve known Tommy Robinson for 6 years and he has shown me nothing other than absolute respect and kindness, despite the fact that he completely rejects Islam. It’s simple: If you want respect, earn it. Don’t rape people.’
I wouldn’t be surprised if the UK Justice System announces a mistrial for the rapists and sets them free just to blame Tommy Robinson and make him look bad. Even if this was the case, only the 2 who appeared in the video were affected, not the entire gang. We’re 10 steps ahead.
Raif Badawi gets 10 years in Jail and 1000 lashes for blogging in Saudi Arabia. Tommy Robinson gets 13 months in prison for filming in the UK. It sounds like a Saudi Judge has migrated to the UK and found himself an exciting job. (Twitter)
The issue appears even more wrong-headed when one considers that Robinson has been issued credible death threats from the extremist Muslim community in the past. Most outside of the UK probably don’t understand how notorious Tommy Robinson is in the fundamentalist Muslim community, and how being confined in tight corridors with violent criminals puts him at risk of certain assault and potential murder.
Consider that a man put in jail for leaving a bacon sandwich outside of a mosque – yes, he was jailed for that – was found dead in his cell halfway through his 12-month sentence. Then, think about the target Robinson has on his back, and whether these punishments are fitting of his crime.
And, most importantly, whether others should be subject to arrest for reporting on the entirety of the facts which are needed to contextualize the latest Tommy Robinson affair.
Historically, there have been few cases in the Western world for which a complete media blackout has been justified. Prince Harry serving in Afghanistan was kept a relative secret for his own protection. At times, the cases of kidnapping victims have been kept out of the media in order to assure safe return. They are, with few exceptions, cases in which the welfare of the subject involved are put in immediate danger by reporting.
Quite simply, the use of media blackouts by British courts have, most often, not been justified. Nor are the blackouts in the cases of the Rotherham sex ring or of Tommy Robinson’s own incarceration.
It seems beyond belief that while England does have a statute on hate speech, aka protections against fractured feelings, it doesn’t have a universal law about media blackouts pertaining to court cases. Which means that such decisions are left arbitrarily up to judges.
One cannot help but ask why these blackouts are put in place, who is issuing them, and who they are really meant to protect.