From the Independent, yesterday:
Tommy Robinson has been widely condemned for launching into a tirade about Islamic extremism at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack in Westminster.
The former English Defence League leader rushed to the Houses of Parliament in London after news of the attacks emerged. Although details about the alleged assailant and their motive remains unclear, Mr Robinson claimed Britain was at “war” with Islamic fundamentalists.
…A video of the far-right leader, who led the EDL from 2009 until October 2013, outside the Houses of Parliament appeared on Rebel Media, a fringe right-wing Canadian media company after he went down to the scene.
The report was filed while details of the attack were still emerging – some hours later, we no longer need to describe the terrorist atrocity as “suspected”, and the photograph of the killer makes it highly unlikely that he was not a Muslim. In situations such as what happened at Westminster yesterday, anti-Islam activists commonly draw conclusions prematurely: if they are eventually proved right, then they have a stick with which to beat a more cautious mainstream media, and if they are proved wrong they can simply discard the line of attack and move on (example here).
Robinson’s appearance at the scene was criticised on Twitter as opportunistic and as making things worse – that’s also my view, but it’s hardly a remarkable observation and looking around social media it would have been just as easy to have assembled a collection of supportive Tweets. Using Twitter as a vox pop isn’t the most rigorous journalistic practice, particularly when the assembled sample is in the service of an editorial line. Further, the Independent‘s examples includes one Scott Nelson – surely it should have been noted that this is a man who was expelled from the Labour Party in December 2015 for “a series of antisemitic Tweets”?
Rebel Media, meanwhile, is a project of Ezra Levant. The site appears to be in a middle of a project involving Robinson – last Saturday, it filmed Robinson attempting to talk to protesters at the Stand Up To Racism rally in London, and gleefully reported on the abusive responses that his presence provoked.
The Rebel Media reporter in both instances was one Caolan Robertson, a young man who also runs his own website, called The New Brit. At Robinson’s Westminster appearance, Robertson actually upstaged his subject at one point with his own expletive-laden attack on other media present, delivered in deliberate and well-spoken tones reminiscent of Milo Yiannopoulos and with hand gestures that recall Donald Trump in full flow.
According to the Rebel Media website, Caolan Robertson “studied film at a prestigious London university”, but became “disenfranchised as a result of the university’s banning him from creating content that critiqued Islam”. For some reason, he has recently deleted a Linkedin page which confirms that this was the University of the Arts London.
One further detail of interest is that Tommy Robinson appeared to have some sort of badge sewn onto the arm of his coat – a white cross in a circle. A simple manufacturer’s logo, or a sign of some new group?
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