‘Tommy Robinson’ shared fake news about Muslims, then laughed. He can f*** right off.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon
Fréa Lockley

The heartbreaking video of a child brutally attacking a Syrian refugee has caused outrage. The alleged attacker has been summoned to appear in youth court. But as The Canary previously reported, he frequently shared posts from Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka ‘Tommy Robinson’) on social media. And the latter has since waded in to support the attacker. The family of the attacked boy, meanwhile, has now threatened legal action against Yaxley-Lennon.

Yaxley-Lennon has now acknowledged, however, that he shared anti-Muslim fake news while defending the alleged attacker. And he apparently found that funny. But it’s really not. In fact, it’s chilling.

“Fake news central”

As Metro reported, on 29 November Yaxley-Lennon “filmed a seven-minute rant.. claiming five Muslim pupils had attacked a 13-year-old white boy”. He also defended the attacker, alleging that the refugee child attacked “isn’t innocent”. Metro reported that he also claimed “there was a media blackout on Muslim gangs beating up white children in schools”.

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If the alleged attacker is formally charged, the fact is that he openly supported Yaxley-Lennon on his Facebook page. And that’s significant. Because no matter how many times he tries to reinvent himself, Yaxley-Lennon is a vile racist who’s pushed a harsh anti-Muslim message for years. It doesn’t take much to find evidence of his extreme anti-Islamic bile.

Later on, Yaxley-Lennon admitted “to his 970,000 followers on Facebook” that he’d been “completely had”. In his video, he said:

Some leftie is sitting somewhere absolutely mugging me completely off and laughing about it. So yeah, fake news central.

As he says this, he’s laughing, as though it’s all a big joke.

Not. Funny.

This isn’t funny in the slightest. The alleged offender shared far-right posts by Yaxley-Lennon, who then stepped in to defend him. We can’t ignore this connection. And then, Yaxley-Lennon spread yet more anti-Muslim bile before admitting it was fake news. Too late, because it’s out there. It wreaks havoc and fuels the fire of intolerance even further.

Amid Brexit chaos, Yaxley-Lennon’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant ideology appears close to becoming normalised across the UK. Our prime minister announces with relish almost daily now that Brexit will put “an end to the free movement of people once and for all”. Let’s not forget, this same woman was also the architect of the UK’s ‘hostile environment‘. Nor should we ignore the Tories’ shamefully poor record on providing sanctuary for asylum seekers and refugees.

No action was taken against Boris Johnson, Theresa May’s former cabinet minister who described Muslim women as ‘bank robbers’ and “letterboxes”. In the wake of Johnson’s comments, Tell MAMA – which records incidents against Muslims – said that “insults against Muslim women” spiked.

Even before Johnson’s comments – between January and June 2018 – Tell MAMA recorded 608 verified cases that were “anti-Muslim or Islamophobic in nature”.

A Yaxley-Lennon Facebook group created a meme that found Johnson’s comments funny. And the boy accused of this violent act shared that meme. The child he attacked, meanwhile, said:

I was feeling unsafe everywhere – even to go to the shop.

Political opportunism

Although I firmly believe he spreads hate speech, simply banning or no-platforming Yaxley-Lennon won’t make the ‘Tommy Robinson phenomenon’ go away. In fact, it will probably draw more people towards him as some kind of martyr. His so-called ‘army’ didn’t latch onto him by chance. He’s a figurehead for thousands of people who’ve been as fucked over by eight years of Tory-led austerity as the rest of us.

The English Defence League (EDL) founder is currently advising UKIP leader Gerard Batten. He’s pushing for greater legitimacy and a bigger political platform. No wonder he’s all over UKIP as Brexit chaos rages. Because it’s fully established that UKIP support helped to swing the Brexit vote and this was linked to the impact of Tory-led austerity. A study identified that the rise of UKIP was directly related to areas with the greatest “exposure to austerity since 2010”, and this tipped the balance in the Brexit vote. Yaxley-Lennon hasn’t been ‘done’ for hate speech, because our government whitewashes his stance and pumps it out in policy every day.

Be the change

A government that only gives a shit about the wealthy has screwed over millions of people. And Yaxley-Lennon has manipulated this with a vile racist manifesto. We can’t ignore that many people have bought into this. Some people with so little needed something – because what else have they got? Perhaps it is easier to label the ‘enemy’ as a dark-skinned ‘other’ rather than stare the causes of a decayed society straight on.

Now that Yaxley-Lennon has used the abuse of a refugee child to further his twisted cause, it really is time for him to fuck right off. And we are the change to stop this vile hatred from spreading further.

So to protect everyone who suffers hideous abuse, we need to get rid of this festering, cruel government. Now. Because – amplified by the “most right-wing” establishment media in Europe – it’s firmly to blame for Yaxley-Lennon’s racist influence.

There’s no joke here. Nothing’s funny. This incident lit a blue touch paper on issues that have been smouldering for years. So it’s up to us to put that fire out with positivity and action. Radical change is the only way to damp out the hatred.

Featured image via Shayan Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn/Wikimedia

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