The co-founder of a Muslim interfaith group in Preston has invited the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson to a “peaceful and respectful” meeting.
Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – is standing as an Independent MEP candidate in North West England constituency and is visiting Preston at the end of May.
According to the interfaith group, The Light Foundation, Robinson agreed to a meeting after he was approached by the group’s co-founder whilst campaigning in Blackpool on Monday 6 May.
Nadeem Ashfaq, who is also an advocate of the UK government’s controversial Prevent strategy, invited Robinson to Preston for a “peaceful and respectful meeting” with representatives of the city’s Muslim community.
The former leader of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) allegedly told Mr Ashfaq that he accepted the invitation to “sit down and talk” during his visit later this month.
Mr Ashfaq told the Lancashire Post: “Tommy Robinson has kindly accepted our invitation for a peaceful and respectful meeting, where we can explore common issues that affect us all.
“He was very polite and listened to me respectfully, for which I am grateful.
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“Many of his supporters even shook my hand and thanked me for being honest and open with Tommy.
“I told him about the Prophet Muhammad who had a Jewish neighbour who allowed a delegation of Christians to stay in his mosque in Madina, where he allowed them to stay and pray according to their traditions.
“I wanted to reach out to Tommy and extend this same courtesy to him and welcome him to our city.
“Preston is a very tolerant city, there’s something about the place. People mostly live together in harmony here and I want to reach out to Tommy our warm welcome to Tommy Robinson.
“We believe in open dialogue, working together to see if we can address issues that affect us all.
“I’ve promised Tommy Robinson that he will be treated with respect, honour and tolerance in Preston.
“May this dialogue be a source of peace for the benefit of Tommy, his supporters, Preston and all humanity.”
Robinson who has been banned on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has a long history of stirring racial and religious hatred against Muslims.
A source close to Robinson who wishes to remain anonymous due to personal safety has informed 5Pillars that the anti-Islam activist is reaching out to Muslim representatives who are engaged in interfaith work and the Prevent programme as a public relations strategy to legitimise his campaign to stand as an MEP.
You can watch the Mr Ashfaq’s encounter with Robinson here.