The Dutch Defence League and the Amsterdam Post recently collected a list of ten questions for Tommy Robinson, the leader of the English Defence League. Many thanks to Timo of the DDL for sending along Mr. Robinson’s answers.
Ten Questions for Tommy Robinson from the Amsterdam Post and the DDL
“Ten Questions” is a initiative launched by the Dutch Defence League and the Amsterdam Post. Periodically readers and members are given the opportunity to ask questions of certain people who are active in the front line against the Islamisation of their country or the threat of sharia law. This initiative was designed to give the people of Holland a better insight into these people or the organizations they represent.
The answers are published on several websites in Holland, Germany, and the rest of the world (ICLA, Amsterdam Post, Gates of Vienna). Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was the first one, Tommy Robinson the second.
1. G. Deckzijl:
How big is the support for the EDL in the UK, and is anti-Islam resistance growing in the UK?
We’ve been holding demonstrations in cities all over England, and each time we manage to attract thousands of supporters. We’re doing well, but we’re still growing. We’ve got a new website, we’re making new alliances, we’re being taken more seriously by the press, and last week, just before the EDL returned to where it all began — my hometown of Luton — the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, gave a speech that echoed a number of the things that we’ve been saying. We started as a small band of people protesting against the treatment of the Royal Anglian Regiment by Muslim extremists, and now we’re looking at upwards of 75,000 supporters.
So resistance is definitely growing, but we’re still getting some unfounded criticisms. For instance, I don’t think it’s fair to say that we’re simply ‘anti-Islam’ — we’re opposed to the terrible things that Islam has brought with it — the support for terrorism, the oppression of women, the intolerance of other religions and other lifestyles, the self-imposed isolation and rejection of the most basic British values. Islam’s got to be held accountable, it’s got to change — but above all else, it’s these things that we need to fight against.
Groups like ours are really only called ‘anti-Islam’ because people are either too scared to criticise Islam, or they don’t realise that there are many good reasons for these criticisms. People have been purposefully kept in the dark by the politicians, by the media, and by those who want to convince us that Islam is simply the religion of peace. Now we’re being told that critics of Islam are all ‘Islamophobes’ (as if we’re all suffering from some kind of mental disorder!) — our opponents really are getting desperate.
What we do believe in is freedom, democracy and individual rights. And we believe that British culture is pretty good at celebrating these things. If we’re to properly resist the threat posed by Islam then we’ve got to convince people that being ‘anti-Islam’ means not being afraid to make important criticisms — it doesn’t mean being ‘far right’, it doesn’t mean being an ‘extremist’ — it means recognising the problems and not being afraid to talk about them — it means doing your bit to defend your country and its ideals.
I’d judge our success by how willing people are to actually talk about Islam — how much they’re willing to challenge it. The more people realise that the media and the government have been covering up the problems, the more they’ll look to the EDL to help voice their concerns — and the more supporters we have, the easier it’ll be to make the politicians listen. Things are getting better, but there’s still a long way to go.
2. Ingrid, Wachters, Fummifan, Frans Groenendijk:
The EDL has had a lot of negative publicity in the press. They were associated with neo-Nazis and football hooligans, who are suspected of joining the EDL just to cause trouble and give the EDL a bad name. Is there any truth in it, and did the EDL succeed in distancing itself from Nazi sympathizers, and what does the EDL do to improve its reputation? For example: were you able to convince Maryam Namazie (onelawforall.org) of your distance from the BNP?
I don’t like that we’re constantly being asked to convince people that we’re not Nazis, hooligans, or members of the BNP. I’d prefer it if people looked at what we’re saying, and asked themselves whether it’s compatible with the views of any of those groups. Last week in Luton I made clear that we’re not at all interested in race, and that I’d rather stand with one proud black patriot that a thousand scumbag racists. Why would I say that if it wasn’t true? I don’t say one thing to journalists and another to our supporters — I’m very open about my views, and we’ve published a mission statement on our website, for anyone who’s still unclear.
Yes, people have tried to use the EDL to cause trouble — but we always deal with them swiftly. At our local meets, the division leaders are constantly working to educate new members as to what we’re all about, and to make sure that people aren’t joining up for the wrong reasons. We’ve also introduced stewards at our demonstrations to help identify and remove troublemakers.
We want to have an open membership policy — to let anyone join, whatever their background, whatever their political beliefs, whatever their skin colour, whatever their religion — so that means that it’s important that anyone wanting to join does understanding what we do and do not stand for. Back in the early days we were filmed burning a swastika — we thought we’d made it pretty clear then — both to our opponents, and to our potential supporters. The EDL is about opposition to a dangerous form of Islam, and the protection of our country. That’s it.
The people that still call us all those kinds of things (racists, fascists, etc) are actually the ones that are guilty of the sort of prejudice that they’re accusing us of. We don’t demand that every Muslim convince us that they’re not an extremist — so people shouldn’t make similar demands of us. Maryam Namazie is an Iranian Communist — but we don’t ask her to prove that she’s not some kind of dangerous Stalinist. So, I don’t know if we’ve managed to convince Maryam that we’re not connected to the BNP — she should be able to work it out for herself.
3. G. Deckzeijl, Veteraan:
Is it possible to stop this Jihad talk by hard cold facts? Why for example are the black Jihad flags not forbidden?
Facts are of course important, and we’re doing all we can to tell people things we feel they need to know, as well as encouraging them to find out about Islam for themselves. But it’s difficult to convince people of things when the media will immediately find a so-called ‘moderate Muslim’ who will tell everyone that we’ve just misunderstood the issue, that Islam is the religion of peace, and that it’s us who are being offensive.
We have plenty of facts, but the constant message from the media and the government is that we don’t understand them.
What this means is that although we hear about crimes where Islam has played a part almost every day, many people still refuse to accept that there is any connection at all. It’s almost as if it’s too obvious, that if the connection was real then the government would be doing something about it. People take the government’s silence to mean that there’s not really a problem — not that the government has no idea how to deal with it.
The black Jihad flags aren’t forbidden because so few people actually recognise what they are, and because so many people would happily pretend that there aren’t all these problems with Islam.
In Europe, we see various counter jihad movements popping up: next to the EDL and its affiliates in other countries, there is SIOE, the Paris Manifesto movement, Geert Wilders planning to go international, political parties like Die Freiheit in Germany and a plethora of anti-Islam(ist) blogs.
Do you see any movement towards a pan-European umbrella organization, which would be strong enough to influence (or counter) national or European legislation, with respect to the ongoing Islamisation of Europe? Does the EDL work towards establishing such a movement? In relation to this: Which are the preferred partners of the EDL, both in Europe and elsewhere? Whose views do you most identify with?
We recognise that radical Islam is a global problem, but we’re mainly concerned with doing what we can in this country — as are the other defence leagues, and similar organisations, in their respective countries. The more successful we become, the more we’ll be able to help our foreign allies.
That said, we are proud to be members of the European Freedom Initiative (EFI), a group whose member organisations fight to preserve freedom of speech, and who oppose the spread of Islamism and Sharia law.
As for whose views we most identify with, that’s difficult, because it’s not like we’re a political party — there are lots of different views already within the EDL. As long as other groups believe in the values that we do — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, support for democracy, equal rights for women — and share our belief in the need to criticise and expose militant Islam, then they’re welcome to become part of our growing network.
Our friends in the EFI certainly share with us a number of key concerns and beliefs, and we look forward to working with them more in the future.
5. Veteraan DDL:
Is there going to be an umbrella organization for the different Defence Leagues that are forming?
It’s difficult to say exactly what’s going to happen in the future. We are seeing defence leagues, loosely based on the EDL model, cropping up all over the world. We’re proud to have inspired these people, but at the moment we don’t think there would be much point in creating any new umbrella organisation. We’re in regular contact with most of these groups, and we look forward to supporting each other’s efforts.
6. Frans Groenendijk:
What is your relation to UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) and vice versa? The UKIP is not anti-Islam. Is the EDL planning to start a political party in the future?
We have no plans to become, or to found, a political party. But we cannot discount the possibility of having to adopt a more political stance if our politicians continue to fail the British public. We are working to defend principles that are more important that party politics. Radical Islam isn’t just a threat to certain types of political parties; it’s a threat to the whole system of liberal democracy, because it wants to replace our laws and our politics with Sharia Law.
That’s one of the reasons why we’re such a diverse organisation — we have supporters with all different kinds of political views (it’s also one of the reasons why it’s ridiculous to call us ‘far right’). We want to pressure all politicians of all parties to start addressing the issues, to stand up for freedom of speech, and to make clear that they will not ignore the threat posed by radical Islam.
At the end of the day, we’d only enter politics if we were forced to by inaction — if none of the political parties listened to us. But I believe that we have the momentum — the growing support — to make sure that they will.
We’ve received quiet words of support from all of the main political parties in the UK, but have yet to agree a constructive working relationship with any of them. We do not wish to be party political, but we are more than willing to cooperate with those with whom we find common ground (be they political parties or other organisations). We would hope that the ruling Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition would begin to take seriously our concerns, because a clear and consistent message from government that acknowledged the extent of the problems we face, and which demonstrated a sincere commitment to overcoming them, would do a lot to reassure the people of Britain.
David Cameron does seem to be making some positive steps — but he’s got a long way to go to prove that he’s really on our side.
7. G. Deckzeijl, Templar NL:
Is the EDL aware of the meaning and existence of Taqiyya and Tafsir? Do you think that a moderate Islam exists, or is that part of their strategy?
Yes, we’re aware of the terms. Taqiyya is lying to protect or advance Islam — it’s a common tactic of Muslim organisations that pretend to be interested in building bridges between communities, when they’re only really interested in looking after their own interests, or which want to hide their real intentions. We should also mention Kitman: the strategy of pretending to accept the laws and beliefs of your enemy, whilst all the while plotting against them and looking to undermine them — a strategy very familiar to those who would push for Sharia in the UK.
Tafsir is the study and interpretation of the Koran, Hadith and Sunnah by scholars of Islam. It’s something that has so-far failed to produce a convincing blueprint for peace between Islam and ‘the West’.
We don’t always think that it’s helpful to divide Muslims into ‘moderates’ and ‘radicals’. Whilst there is some truth to it, we’re talking about people — who are rarely simple. I think it’s better to say that what we call ‘radical Islam’ is far more influential and widespread than most people realise. In some towns and cities, even in Britain, it threatens to dominate the local Muslim population.
Obviously some radicals do realise that it’s a good idea to appear to be moderates (and we’ve seen reports from organisations like the Quilliam Foundation that show that many supposed moderate Muslim organisations are actually infested with dangerous radicals). But I don’t think you can take that as evidence that there aren’t plenty of decent Muslims who love this country and are genuinely ashamed that others hold such intolerant views.
However, there are many opinion poll results out there that suggest that these people may actually be a minority. Regardless of the exact numbers, I think it’s undeniable that radical Islam is far too influential a force in Britain — and serious questions need to be asked if we’re to work out how to deal with it. Why, for instance, does tafsir continue to help justify the actions of the radicals and extremists rather than supporting the growth of so-called ‘moderate Islam’?
8. rias politica:
What are the possibilities of achieving a formal prohibition of the Sharia courts in GB?
We believe that it would be possible to attempt legal challenges against judgements handed down by Sharia court, but ultimately our success would rest on the political will needed to combat these courts. Judges can only operate within the law, and subject to the common consensus — and I don’t think they’ve had enough run-ins with Sharia courts to consider them a serious threat as yet.
If we’re going to prevent things from getting that far, then we need to educate people about the role Sharia courts play in undermining our laws, perpetuating intolerant and oppressive behaviours, and helping to keep the Muslim population segregated from the rest of society. Only the government is in a position to outlaw Sharia courts, and that won’t happen until we’ve won a lot more arguments.
9. DutchViking, Templar:
Will the government ever wake up before it’s too late? Do you think that politicians in GB and Europe will come to their senses and listen to groups like the EDL, or will it have to come entirely from the people?
I think they’ll listen, even if they never admit that we played an important role in convincing them that something must be done. As I mentioned earlier, David Cameron’s said some things recently that do give us hope. But even though he’s started echoing what we’ve been saying, he’d never acknowledge that he’s responding to the pressure that we’ve been putting on him. Instead, he’ll pretend that we hold extreme views — that we’re part of the ‘far right’ — even if he does come round to agreeing with exactly what we’ve been saying.
There’s still a lot of resistance to criticism of Islam. There are still a lot of people that think we need things like ‘multiculturalism’ because we should still feel guilty about the British Empire — so they hate anyone who isn’t ashamed of this country. The more people reject that view — whether they support the EDL or not — the better position we’ll be in.
How far is the EDL prepared to go in the fight against Islamisation?
We may need to change tactics at some point along the way, but we shall always remain peaceful — anything else would be counterproductive. We believe in the need to defend certain rights and freedoms from the threat posed by certain forms of Islam, and we’d never do anything to undermine those very same rights and freedoms.
Exactly what needs to be done to turn the tide of Islamisation depends largely on Islam itself — on its ability to reform, adapt and conform to Western culture, laws, politics and respect for human rights. Of course, it also depends on the willingness and strength of conviction of individual Muslims to be part of this process.
11th Bonus Question:
What can the people in The Netherlands and on the rest of the continent do to support you?
You should focus on what you can do in your own countries. We’d love to see you at our demonstrations, and would hope to lend you our support when we can. But what we’d really like to see would be you having your own successes, inspiring us to continue doing what we do, and setting an example of what can be achieved. In The Netherlands you have Geert Wilders — a politician unlike most of the others — who is committed seriously addressing the root cause of the problems of Islamic extremism. In The Netherlands you have the potential to achieve a great deal, and to be an example to the rest of the world. Best of luck to you all, and thank you!