Tommy Robinson and his ilk are not a symptom of the strength of racism today, they are evidence of our own cowardice and weakness, writes Moazzam Begg.
A couple of years ago I came across Tommy Robinson walking on Ladypool Road in Birmingham. Yes, that’s right, the heart of the Midlands “no-go zone”.
By this time Robinson had left the EDL and had begun his failed attempt to launch and revive the anti-Muslim PEGIDA group in Britain.
A few weeks later, his “protest” in Birmingham garnered around 200 people and was literally a wash-out on a rainy day.
I was deeply surprised to see him in my area and I know he was quite uneasy being stopped in the street by me.
We’d never met before but instantly recognised one another.
I told him that when I was imprisoned in Belmarsh I met one of the Al-Muhajiroon lot who Tommy knew only too well. If you’ve seen the viral video of the guy who slapped Tommy in the face in Luton, you’ll know who I’m talking about. Obviously, Tommy wasn’t impressed when I mentioned him. He really wanted to get away so I didn’t have the chance to tell him the rest of the story.
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When I asked the brother why he was in prison he told me he’d been “fighting the ‘rafidah’ (pejorative term for Shias). “You were fighting in Iraq?” I asked. “No”, he replied. “Edgware Road.” I didn’t respond…
I don’t think the story would have consoled Tommy anyway. He evidently had bigger plans.
Love him or hate him, this violent, racist, serial criminal has carefully manoeuvred himself as a hero for many who believe their voices are not being heard. The “silent” white working class majority who care so deeply about rape and grooming gangs festering within Pakistani Muslim communities that they take to the street in their thousands in defence of the man who dares say and do what the politically correct establishment or opposition figures are too afraid to say.
At least, that’s how it appears until you scratch the surface and look at the sheer numbers of white working class, middle class or privileged class paedophiles – including some of Tommy’s own EDL colleagues – convicted for child rape, grooming gangs, sexual assault and beyond.
If as Tommy puts it, Islam is responsible for producing such lowlifes, then how come the overwhelming majority filling British prisons on a daily basis are from his own community?
The truth is people do care about their children, their daughters being abused in this way. I agree that they’re probably not all racists and fascists – I’m sure some will say they have “Muslim friends” – even if it’s on FB. But, that won’t prevent them from joining overtly populist anti-Muslim movements.
Tommy has struck that chord with these growing masses as the far right rides the wave of popularity from America to Europe.
Now, the far right (knuckle-dragger division) has been left headless with Jayda Fransen, Paul Golding and TR all doing time for breaking the very laws they claim to be fighting for. But, don’t let that small detail get in the way. They are neither imprisoned without charge or trial nor are they being targeted on the basis of secret evidence – as countless Muslims have. Putting them in prison may be politically expedient but they are not political prisoners. Common street thuggery and breaking basic laws won’t cut it.
Islam in general and Muslims in specific detest grooming gangs and its forced association with us. The entirety of this behaviour opposes the very principles and morals we are taught to live by. Alcohol and drug abuse, extra-marital relations, unrestrained interaction with the opposite sex, safeguarding the young, family values, abstention from vice, enjoining good and forbidding evil and being a source of benefit to our societies is what Islam teaches us.
But, not everyone who claims to be a Muslim lives by Islam’s moral code. Indeed, not everyone who claims to respect the laws of this country abides by them (see above).
We might not agree about some of the laws and measures regarding definitions and application of extremism, terrorism and radicalisation but there is NO dispute about the rape gangs.
That is why I know this is a smoke screen and red herring for what the far right is successfully doing in this country and around the world.
They are the inheritors of Hitler’s legacy and they walk today on his path, just as they did with Europe’s Jews in 1930s.
That is why before, during and after the grooming gangs issue it is Muslim dietary laws, Muslim women’s dress codes, Muslim places of worship, Muslims fasting in Ramadan, Muslim birth rates, Muslim “integration”, Muslim education, Muslim laws, foreign policy in Muslim world and anything else in to do with Muslims – except, of course lucrative Islamic banking, trade and tax free jobs in the Muslim Gulf – that is seen with disdain and hatred. It was precisely these differences that made Europe’s Jews distinct and unique that the Nazis called separatism in order to persecute them.
I genuinely don’t know what the future holds for Muslims who believe in and live by their values in the UK. Dark days seem to loom ahead.
As a teenager when National Front and British Movement skinheads would march on our streets shouting “WOGS” or “Pakis out” we did as we were asked – even though we were relatively few. We came out to meet them. They aren’t around any more.
Today, Muslims are far greater in number but much more afraid and less ready to stand up. That’s why 5,000 FLA thugs can march in Birmingham without much opposition or 20,000 Tommy Robison supporters can swell the capital city and Muslims are absent.
In this blessed month of Ramadan, I love being part of the beautiful peace and tranquillity that arises every night at mosques packed out across the country. I didn’t leave the mosque until 3:30am from last night and it was still packed! We are masters at the spiritual and ritualistic aspects of our faith but, unlike the Messenger of Allah and his companions, we are docile, inactive and silently complicit in the face of oppression.
But, imagine if we could mobilise the same numbers when these thugs come to threaten our very existence? Just a show of numbers, nothing else. Imagine that type of energy harnessed for good instead of shooting or stabbing each other in the streets?
Tommy Robinson and his ilk are not a symptom of the strength of racism today. They are evidence of our own cowardice and weakness.
You can follow Moazzam on Twitter @Moazzam_Begg