EDL’s Stephen Lennon on BBC Prog After Aarhus Rally: “I didn’t say ‘Breivik’. I said ‘Ribbit'”

Back in February, Channel 4 broadcast a documentary about Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson), the leader of the English Defence League. The programme featured an encounter between a somewhat lubricated Lennon and a Muslim security guard. It included the following:

Guard: Not all Muslims are bad.

Lennon: I know they’re not, bruv. I know they’re not. Just most of them. Ha, I’m only joking.

Then to camera:

Lennon: Other than Breivik, cos he’ll shoot ’em all. I’m from Norway and I’ll shoot you. [Grins]

As a follow up, Lennon tried throwing stones from a distance at some police officers, as a prank; he then pulled his hood down over his face in comic fashion, and once again – apparently – said “Breivik”.

Lennon has now explained that there has been a misunderstanding, speaking on BBC1’s The Big Questions:

When I had me hood up and I had goggles on – this is what we’re up against as an organisation – I said “ribbit”, cos I looked like a frog, cos I had goggles on, and I was drunk. I didn’t say Breivik. They put a subtitle as “Breivik”, I didn’t say “Breivik”. I said “Ribbit”. And taken out of context, a lot of those things, if you know what the story behind what had happened, it’s not the way it looked.

It’s a fair point that reports claiming that Lennon had threatened the guard were wide of the mark; the guard actually initiated the exchange by shaking hands with Lennon and stating that he respected his views. As I wrote at the time, it was clear that Lennon’s “Breivik” comment was bad-taste humour rather than a threat of violence. Nevertheless, I added, the fact that the leader of the EDL finds Anders Breivik’s massacre to be a source of amusement ought to be seriously damaging. The fact that a second apparent reference to Breivik may have been a misunderstood frog impersonation doesn’t change that.

Lennon’s appearance on the The Big Questions came a day after a much-reported “European Counter-Jihad Meeting” in Aarhus, from which he was brought back in time for the programme at the BBC’s expense. The rally consolidated links between the various Defence Leagues and the “Stop Islamization” groups. This process has been ongoing over the past few months – Pamela Geller, who co-runs Stop the Islamization of America (and who has written a book with the same title, endorsed by John Bolton and Jerry Boykin), reaffirmed her support for the EDL last July after temporarily backing away, while the EDL’s alliance with Paul Weston and the British Freedom Party has helped to facilitate links with other groups (such as the Tennessee Freedom Coalition).

Lennon was careful to use his BBC appearance to distinguish between Islamists and Muslims; Matthew Goodwin, who was also on the programme, noted that the EDL is known for “slippage” on this point (here’s an example). However, Anders Gravers, who spoke at the Aarhus rally as the head of Stop the Islamisation of Europe, makes no such distinction. Geller has posted his vitrolic speech on her website:

…Islam is not a religion. It is the world’s biggest hate group.

Muslims choose to be members of this hate group.

…Every mosque being built must be protested against. Not only must protests be held outside mosques, but also the building companies making the mosques. Also the councils allowing mosques to be built.

Whenever a woman, or even worse, a child is raped, we must protest outside the mosque closest to where it happened. Even if it is only four or five people.

11 Responses

  1. Thought this was an April Fool until I watched it on iPlayer.

  2. I thought it sounded very close to “Breivik.” I think the thing that came out of this documentary was the way in which Tommy Robinson came across as a bit of a drunken hooligan. If he really wants to be seen as a leading figure in some international “movement” he will need to clean up his act. And I get really irritated by people in America who think that the EDL’s street protests are “great”. Such protests are divisive, and few people would really want soccer hooligan tactics happening on the streets of their towns. There are many things that have annoyed working class people enough to get involved with such a group, but those issues need to be tackled seriously and politically, without intimidating people in the areas where they are trying to live and go about their business.

  3. “Matthew Goodwin, who was also on the programme, noted that the EDL is known for “slippage” on this point”

    The host of The Big Questions, Nicky Campbell, confronted Stephen Yaxley-Lennon with another example of the latter’s “slippage” right at the start of the programme, namely Yaxley-Lennon’s speech at the EDL “Tower Hamlets” demonstration in September 2011 when he directly accused “every single Muslim” of collective guilt and then made a direct threat of EDL-led retribution against the entire British Muslim population. Here’s the relevant extract, which Campbell also read out:

    “EVERY SINGLE MUSLIM watching this on Youtube, on 7/7 you got away with killing and maiming British citizens, you got away with it. You had better understand that we have built a network from one end of this country to the other end, and we will not tolerate it, and the Islamic community will feel the full force of the English Defence League if we see any of our citizens killed, maimed or hurt on British soil ever again.”

    You can watch this part of Yaxley-Lennon’s speech on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j7IX_5a_9M&feature=share. Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary in February also confirmed that Yaxley-Lennon did indeed make these statements, and the programme showed the video footage. The full 10-minute speech is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWBRmuqsl5Q.

    (It’s worth bearing in mind that a number of British Muslims were also killed by the terrorists on 7/7. This is public knowledge. So, Yaxley-Lennon’s accusation and threat is also directed at the surviving family members of people murdered on 7/7).

    Other examples of Yaxley-Lennon’s “slippage” include his interview in January 2010 when he clearly indicated that his own actions are indeed racially-motivated:

    ”Within 30 or 40 years in this country we are a complete minority to Muslims, because of the Muslim demographics…..Our culture and our race will disappear in this country”.

    [You can listen to the interview on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BXxvy4NOXM%5D

    It’s also worth remembering the following fact: As a result of an interview he gave to the Norwegian media in September 2011, Yaxley-Lennon is on record as publicly stating that he shares the “opinions” and “feelings” of Anders Breivik: http://theforeigner.no/pages/news/edl-leader-breivik-dared-to-come-forward-with-his-opinions/

  4. [Format corrected. Richard Bartholomew, please feel free to delete my post immediately above].

    “Matthew Goodwin, who was also on the programme, noted that the EDL is known for “slippage” on this point”

    The host of The Big Questions, Nicky Campbell, confronted Yaxley-Lennon with another example of the latter’s “slippage” right at the start of the show, namely Yaxley-Lennon’s speech at the EDL “Tower Hamlets” demonstration in September 2011 when he directly accused “every single Muslim” of collective guilt and then made a direct threat of EDL-led retribution against the entire British Muslim population. Here’s the relevant extract, which Campbell also read out:

    “EVERY SINGLE MUSLIM watching this on Youtube, on 7/7 you got away with killing and maiming British citizens, you got away with it. You had better understand that we have built a network from one end of this country to the other end, and we will not tolerate it, and the Islamic community will feel the full force of the English Defence League if we see any of our citizens killed, maimed or hurt on British soil ever again.”

    You can watch this part of Yaxley-Lennon’s speech on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j7IX_5a_9M&feature=share. Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary in February also confirmed that Yaxley-Lennon did indeed make these statements, and the programme showed the video footage. The full 10-minute speech is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWBRmuqsl5Q.
    (It’s worth bearing in mind that a number of British Muslims were also killed by the terrorists on 7/7. This is public knowledge. So, Yaxley-Lennon’s accusation and threat is also directed at the surviving family members of people murdered on 7/7).

    Other examples of Yaxley-Lennon’s “slippage” include his interview in January 2010 when he clearly indicated that his own actions are indeed racially-motivated:

    ”Within 30 or 40 years in this country we are a complete minority to Muslims, because of the Muslim demographics…..Our culture and our race will disappear in this country”.

    [You can listen to the interview on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BXxvy4NOXM%5D

    It’s also worth remembering the following fact: As a result of an interview he gave to the Norwegian media in September 2011, Yaxley-Lennon is on record as publicly stating that he shares the “opinions” and “feelings” of Anders Breivik: http://theforeigner.no/pages/news/edl-leader-breivik-dared-to-come-forward-with-his-opinions/

  5. There have been some further developments during the past 24 hours. Due to Dr Matthew Goodwin’s very effective counterarguments against Stephen Yaxley-Lennon on The Big Questions yesterday, the EDL leadership have subsequently attempted to discredit Dr Goodwin by posting a Tweet on the EDL’s official Twitter account promoting a certain website containing defamatory material about Dr Goodwin. Full details, including a screenshot of the EDL leadership’s Twitter message: http://www.edlnews.co.uk/index.php/latest-news/latest-news/623-edl-tweet-nazi-websites-to-try-and-discredit-dr-goodwin

    As the article discusses, despite Yaxley-Lennon’s “we’re not Nazis” claims on The Big Questions yesterday, the website containing the aforementioned material denigrating Dr Goodwin is actually “Metapedia”, a white supremacist neo-Nazi website (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metapedia). The Metapedia webpage on Hitler is, shall we say, particularly revealing.

    Furthermore, during The Big Questions, Yaxley-Lennon falsely accused Dr Goodwin of listing his political views on his Facebook profile as “Left. Way way left. No more left!”. This false claim is actually made on the Metapedia page on Dr Goodwin. So, Yaxley-Lennon was quoting material from a Hitler-supporting neo-Nazi website live on air.

  6. I missed the “Big Question” due to other commitments.

    However, when Tommy Robinson lies to get around an uncomfortable aspect of his past, he makes himself seem less trustworthy. He claims he said “Ribbit” to the man in the yellow jacket on the quoted documentary. But why follow that with “I’m from Norway”…?

    I am sure there are just as many frogs in Norway as in the UK, but no-one in Britain would consider Norway to be linked in anyone’s imagination to a meme involving “frogs.”

    A simple admission of error and guilt – a “Mea Culpa” – when caught out, would have made him look like someone at least with the beginnings of integrity. Too many people nowadays seem to think that owning up to previous mistakes or wrong deeds is a sign of weakness. It is not. Denial is a strategy for the blackguard and the moral coward.

    Lying to cover up stuff that has been recorded on film and already broadcast shows an arrogant contempt for people living in Britain. It displays narcissism to assume that people can be made to think they misheard or misinterpreted what they had already witnessed.

  7. The good news is that the Eurosummit completely flopped, with about 200 people showing up, with 30 of them from my country, Norway. 4-5000 marched against. When some of the local immigrants and a handful of autonomes started lobbying firecrackers over the policeline, Tommy Robinsons lifeguards panicked and smashed the doors to the local library in order to escape.

  8. I thought Robinson came over pretty well, and most of his opponents failed to engage with him. The woman from Discourse UK made the best point in the show when she noted the ‘shock horror’ reactions to the EDL and the attempt to ban them, and suggested that instead we need to try and understand where their concerns originate, and why. It was also good to hear someone make the point that if we are taking about ‘far-right’ groups then Islamist extremists fall into that category. I am far more worried about such groups than I am about the EDL.

  9. […] when I ran out of bullets”. That should amuse the EDL’s Tommy Robinson, who has been known to joke about the mass […]

  10. […] Ansar on Mentorn’s Sunday morning discussion programme, The Big Questions (which I blogged here). J. Robinson […]

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