Quilliam v Geller: The Battle For Tommy Robinson’s Soul

Ghaffar Hussain, head of “outreach and training” at Quilliam:

An old Chinese proverb goes ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. Tommy [Robinson] s defection from the EDL [see here], an organisation that he helped form in 2009, represents a first step in a positive direction. His defection was accompanied by regrets, apologies and clarifications, as well as a continued adherence to some positions that many may find unacceptable.

…Tommy is clearly a work in progress and, to his credit, he acknowledges that. He has taken a bold step in leaving the EDL and his immediate future is uncertain. What he needs right now to support and guidance so that he can channel his grievances in a more positive and mainstream way… Quilliam will be working with him in order to provide the guidance and training necessary, but even this arduous and challenging work can be derailed if he is not given the time and space to develop.

Pamela Geller (links added):

Why would Tommy Robinson and Kev Carroll end our association? They are dissociating themselves from nazis, antisemites and white supremacists. The media just doesn’t get it — or they don’t want to. We condemn violence and peacefully advocate for equality for all before the law.

…Our struggle in AFDI [American Freedom Defense Initiativeand SION [Stop Islamization of Nations], which continue to stand with Robinson and Carroll, is now and has always been for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law.

And from Geller’s associate Robert Spencer:

[Robinson] has repeatedly stated that he hasn’t changed his views, but they [i.e. The Huffington Postdon’t care about that — they just want to portray his move as a surrender to the jihad, no matter what. I am no supporter of the Quilliam Foundation, with which the fake moderate Ed Husain was formerly involved, but there is at this point no indication that Robinson or Carroll have given up on their resolve to resist jihad terror and Islamic supremacism.

Of course, Geller’s spin misses the point – the issue is not that she advocates violence (although that can’t be said for one or two of her other associates), but that her utterances are luridly demagogic. It’s true that she and Spencer have both claimed that they are not anti-Muslim (see here and here), but their bad faith willingness to use sensationalised, distorted, and bogus claims to whip up fear and and hatred is self-evident in virtually everything they say and do.

It is somewhat difficult to see how Quilliam can build any kind of creditable project involving Robinson and Carroll on the basis of “yes, they’re still tied in with Geller and Spencer for now, but don’t worry, we’re giving them guidance and training.”

UPDATE: Following Quilliam’s statement that they have “decapitated” the EDL, Geller and Spencer have expressed dismay in a statement put out under their ADFI branding:

This is Muslim Outreach? Tommy Robinson approaches Quilliam in earnest, puts his life on the line, becomes a pariah (and rightly so) and that’s how they declare it? Decapitation sounds like jihad, not reformation… While we supported Tommy’s distancing himself from the unsavory forces that were infiltrating the EDL, his association with the Quilliam Foundation is problematic in the extreme.