EDL leader Tommy Robinson turns his back on his own party over 'dangers of far-right extremism'
30-year-old has held discussions with a former jihadi working for anti-extremist organisation
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Tuesday 08 October 2013
English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson has announced his intention to set up a new anti-Islamist movement after he dramatically stepped down from the party he founded, branding it too extreme.
The 30-year-old, who has become a familiar figure leading anti-Muslim protests around the country characterised by racist chanting and frequently scarred by violence, said street protests were “no longer effective” and that he “acknowledged the dangers of far-right extremism”.
Robinson, from Luton, made the surprise announcement through an anti-extremist organisation, the Quilliam Foundation, which said it had been helping the EDL founder and his co-leader, Kevin Carroll, who is also leaving the party. It called on extremists on all sides to follow suit.
At a press conference, Robinson - sat alongside two former Islamist extremists from Quilliam - said he now hoped to influence policy in combating extremism and wanted to try “new tactics” away from street protests by lobbying government, local authorities and other organisations.
It emerged that as part of their new links with Quilliam, forged in recent weeks, Robinson and his co- leader would take lessons in Islam from Usama Hasan and training in lobbying institutions.
Mr Carroll said: “We are making a leap of faith. If we fail then we are handing down the mess. And it is a catastrophic mess. I would ask people to give this a chance.”
The Independent can reveal that Robinson, who is currently facing charges of obstructing police officers at a demonstration in the aftermath of the death of soldier Lee Rigby this summer, has held discussions with a former jihadi working for Quilliam.
Usama Hasan, a one-time mujahideen who fought in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, said Robinson had shown a willingness to modify his views about Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims and their faith. He said: “Tommy is guilty of stirring up anti-Muslim hatred...But I get the impression he does listen and he’s been doing his reading.”
The EDL founder said his leaving the group was a “step forward, not a step back” and represented his desire to lead a “revolution” against Islamic extremism rather than the Muslim mainstream. He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “When some moron lifts up his top and he’s got the picture of a mosque saying ‘boom’ and it’s all over the national newspapers, it’s me.
“It’s when I pick up my kids from school the parents are looking at me, judging me on that. And that’s not what I’ve stood for and my decision to do this is to be true to what I stand for. And whilst I want to lead a revolution against Islamist ideology, I don’t want to lead a revolution against Muslims.”
The announcement by Robinson, who said he felt he could no longer keep extremist elements within the EDL at bay, divided his own movement, with some supporters applauding his move and others deriding it.
An EDL spokesman said the group “will not die because they’re walking away”.
An English Defence League rally earlier this year
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Kanye West gives guest lecture at Oxford University: 'If I, Kanye West, can remove my ego, I think there's hope for everyone'
'This is what Islam tells us to do': A rare glimpse inside a Saudi Arabian prison – where Isis terrorists are showered with perks and privileges
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...
£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to rapid customer growth, a...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest private landlord ba...