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EDL founder Tommy Robinson to march against antisemitism despite being told he is ‘not welcome’

Police said they will not allow a repeat of clashes seen on Armistice Day as Robinson plans to attend march

Amy-Clare Martin
Crime Correspondent
Friday 24 November 2023 18:30 GMT
Tommy Robinson leads protesters on march around Chinatown

English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson is expected to attend London’s first major march against antisemitism, despite organisers insisting he is “not welcome”.

It comes after up to 2,000 far-right counter-protesters and football thugs clashed with police earlier this month after Mr Robinson called for his supporters to “protect” the Cenotaph amid a pro-Palestine rally on Armistice Day.

The Metropolitan Police has more than 1,500 officers on duty this weekend, with up to 100,000 demonstrators expected to flock to the capital for a weekly pro-Palestine march on Saturday and another 50,000 expected for a march led by the Campaign Against Antisemitism on Sunday.

Deputy assistant commissioner Ade Adelekan, the gold commander for the weekend’s protests, said on Friday that Mr Robinson is expected to attend, but vowed police would not allow a repeat of the violent scenes on 11 November.

Asked about reports of Mr Robinson attending, he added: “What I do know is that having spoken to the CAA, Tommy Robinson is not welcome at the march on Sunday.

“The little I do know is that he intends to attend as a reporter. No intelligence to suggest that anyone other than him. That’s all we know at the moment in time.

“What we cannot see and we will not let happen is the kind of violence we have seen on 11 November. We have got enough officers in order to make sure we prevent that from happening.”

Tommy Robinson with counter protesters in London’s Chinatown on Remembrance weekend (PA)

It comes after Mr Robinson posted a message about the march to his nearly 400,000 followers on X, formerly Twitter, earlier this month. He wrote: “Everyone should attend this and let British Jews know they are not alone.”

However, the march organisers, the CAA, responded: “No thanks. The drunken far-right thugs who came to ‘protect the cenotaph’ on Armistice Day, some of whom shouted ‘Sieg Heil’ or hospitalised police officers, are most definitely not welcome.”

Earlier this week, the Jewish News reported that Mr Robinson had maintained at an online meeting he still plans to attend the rally, setting off from the Royal Courts of Justice at 1.30pm.

Speaking to an online audience of around 850 people, including members of the Jewish community in the UK and Israel, he told the meeting he was going in his “capacity as a journalist”, the outlet reported.

“I say to people saying, ‘He shouldn’t be there’, well, maybe you should tell the BBC,” Robinson added.

“They are the ones who won’t label Hamas terrorists. Maybe you should tell The Guardian they shouldn’t be there. You even allow Al Jazeera. You allow them to be there.”

Hundreds of thousands at a pro-Palestine protest on Armistice Day (Reuters)

Sunday’s march is the first major event organised by the CAA since the Israel-Hamas conflict began. It comes after hundreds of thousands have joined weekly protests led by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a coalition of organisers, which have resulted in a number of arrests for antisemitism or supporting proscribed terrorist groups like Hamas.

The CAA said that “week after week, London has become a no-go zone for Jews”, but it is marching for the Jewish community and its allies to “finally have our voice heard”.

The Met condemned “unacceptable violence” faced by police on Armistice Day, which saw 18 officers injured – including two who suffered a fractured elbow and a suspected dislocated hip after preventing an angry mob of counter-protesters from storming the Cenotaph.

Assistant commissioner Matt Twist said counter-demonstrators had arrived in the capital “intent on confrontation and intent on violence”.

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