Tommy Robinson quits English Defence League
Former leader claims organisation has been infiltrated by fascists
Tommy Robinson at a press conference at the Montague Hotel, central London yesterday, after announcing that he is to stand down from the EDL. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA
Former English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, who quit the organisation yesterday saying it had been infiltrated by fascists, last night that the growing influence of radical Islamists in Britain “will see bombs going off within five years”.
Mr Robinson, the son of an Irish mother and whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, resigned from the EDL yesterday, said his decision to quit followed “time to think” during an 18-week jail sentence that ended in February.
His resignation yesterday, along with that of another founding member, Kevin Carroll, followed talks with Quilliam, a British Government-funded organisation that has tried to combat extremism amongst Muslims.
“I don’t hate Muslims, I have never hated Muslims, but people think I do because bottles get thrown at street demonstrations, people get arrested, or people going around chanting: ‘Allah, Allah, who the f*** is Allah’,” he said last night.
Mr Robinson is currently facing charges for obstructing police officers at a demonstration in London in the wake of the brutal slaying in Woolwich of soldier, Drummer Lee Rigby, who was attacked with machetes as he walked on the street. Repeatedly, Mr Robinson, whose resignation attracted a worldwide Press attendance, insisted that ‘my fight’ is with Islamist ideology, not with ordinary Muslims: “I don’t want to lead a revolution against Muslims.”
The organisation he founded, he said, had been infiltrated by fascists and neo-Nazis during his time in jail. “I wasn’t prepared to be the public face for all of that, that’s not what I am about.
“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,” he went on.
Robinson and Carroll were joined at the press conference by Quilliam’s head, Maajid Nawaz, a former member of the radical Muslim group, Hizb ut-Tahrir and Usama Hasan, who fought with the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the late 1980s.
Hasan 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.” Denying that he was quitting before he was pushed, Robinson said: “I am going back to a working-class community that feels I’ve let them down. This is not an easy way for me. I threw my life into this.”