American Neocons bankrolling ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ campaign
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday July 25 2018
A prominent American organisation has spent a five-figure sum to pay for Tommy Robinson’s court defence, The Guardian reports.
The Middle East Forum, a neoconservative think tank headed by Daniel Pipes, has taken it upon itself to fuel the fire of the ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ campaign, which has resulted in violent clashes between the protesters and police officers during a rally held on June 9. The think tank has further revealed that a number of other US-based groups are contributing to the campaign by covering legal fees, inviting well-known speakers to the rallies, and attempting to stir up public opinion in support of the former EDL leader.
Robinson, who was arrested for contempt of court in May 2018, is seeking to appeal a 13-month prison sentence, and has hired a prominent criminal barrister to obtain early release. His case has attracted the attention of, among others, Republican congressman Paul Gosar, far-right Belgian politician Filip Dewinter, former Breitbart UK Editor Raheem Kassam, and the UKIP leader, Gerard Batten.
The convergence of far-right activists and politicians in support of Robinson’s case reveals how intricate and powerful the Islamophobia network actually is. The Middle East Forum, for example, is a central organisation within the network, and has received over $12 million to “inculcate fears of ‘militant Islam’ and to monitor the people and organizations whose views contradict Pipes”. Daniel Pipes, who founded the organisation in the early 1990s, was the first to claim there are “no-go zones” in predominantly Muslim areas in Western Europe. The claim was picked up by US President Donald Trump, who then reportedly raised it during a private dinner with Theresa May, who corrected him.
According to Gregg Roman, one of the directors at The Middle East Forum, the think tank is “focused on ensuring that there can be a robust discussion of the pros and cons of different elements of Islamic thought in western liberal democracies”. He also said: “We’re always open to continuing to support his defence so long as he needs it. At the same time, other bodies are raising funds for his defence. We are aware of three to four other groups and there is also a Tommy Robinson Defence Fund”.
The Middle East Forum is among the funders of anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders, as well as of several other Islamophobic organisations such as Zuhdi Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy; Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy; Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch; and Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism.
According to the UK-based advocacy group Hope Not Hate, “We are witnessing the emergence of a new internationalised far right: propelled by deep antipathy towards Muslims”. A spokesperson of the organisation further stated: “We need to wake up to the threat posed by these powerful and monied far-right figures, who – with newfound confidence under Donald Trump’s presidency, and under the leadership of Steve Bannon – are determined to stoke conflict and division across Europe.”
Indeed, Steve Bannon, former advisor in the Trump administration and former chairman of Breitbart News, called for Robinson’s release during a show on LBC radio. When challenged by the radio station’s editor, he allegedly said off-air: “F*** you. Don’t you f*****g say you’re calling me out. You f*****g liberal elite. Tommy Robinson is the backbone of this country.”
Bannon is not the only Robinson’s supporter to come out of the Trump administration. Sam Brownback, the US ambassador for international religious freedom, has allegedly lobbied the British ambassador to Washington in support of Robinson’s release, by saying that “if Britain did not treat Robinson more sympathetically, the Trump administration might be compelled to criticise Britain’s handling of the case”.
It is clear that prominent US neocons and far-right activists see Robinson as a powerful instrument to spread Islamophobic sentiments across Britain.