First the good news: on Wednesday, at about noon London time, Tommy Robinson's former lawyer, Helen Gower, reported on Twitter that "Tommy has just rung me and is well." He had been receiving e-mails of support and was humbled by them. "He did inform me of some of the things that happened on Friday," Gower wrote, "but I don't want to put anything out and I will leave that to his Solicitor."
Well, there it stands: the media gag order on the Tommy Robinson case has been lifted, but Robinson himself remains in Hull Prison, having been arrested on the street in Leeds, hauled into a kangaroo court, and then sent off to jail. Incidentally, in a YouTube video, Canadian activist Lauren Southern and a member of Robinson's team have provided a plausible explanation of why the charge against Robinson declared by the police at the time of arrest, "breach of peace," was changed to "contempt of court." Apparently, the former offense would not constitute a violation of the terms of Robinson's suspended sentence from last year and thereby justify immediate imprisonment. But by declaring Robinson guilty of "contempt of court," the judge was able to ship him straightaway to prison.
Tommy Robinson. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
But this is all a bunch of judicial mumbo-jumbo -- a cagey use of legal technicalities to betray the very spirit of the law. In fact, it is clear to people all over Britain what is really going on here. Their country is being steadily Islamized, and their government is abetting this process. Muslims commit outrageous crimes, and police treat them respectfully -- then turn around and arrest ordinary British citizens for daring to complain. Of all those ordinary citizens, Robinson is the most prominent. More than anyone else in Britain, he has risked his own safety and freedom to awaken the dormant patriotism and sense of responsibility in the hearts of his fellow British subjects -- and to keep the reprehensible reality of mass child rape by Muslim gangs in the public eye. For these transgressions, the British establishment must see him punished.
Videos and commentaries that have been posted online in recent days by ordinary British citizens give the distinct impression that millions of his countrymen deeply respect Robinson for saying and doing things that they themselves dare not say or do. They are greatly upset by his arrest, trial, and imprisonment -- all of which took place within what must be a record-setting time of four hours -- and are genuinely alarmed by the seemingly unprecedented and unjust way in which the whole thing was pulled off. Thanks to Islam, Britain has been becoming more and more unrecognizable to them -- more and more dangerous, undemocratic, unequal, and unjust -- and this episode appears to have brought that process to a crisis point, and brought many Britons' anger to a boil.
One of those Britons is a friend of my British source "L." Concerned about Robinson's imprisonment, she wrote a polite e-mail to her Member of Parliament, a recently elected Labourite who is an ally of Labour honcho Jeremy Corbyn and who, according to Wikipedia, is gay. The MP's hostile reply to his constituent provides a stark insight into the mentality of at least some of the UK's governing elites. It begins:
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, is not a martyr of free speech.
He is a convicted fraudster and former football hooligan....
This is nonsense. Yes, Robinson is a working-class boy from Luton. If part of young Muslim male culture is forming "grooming gangs" and raping children, part of young male culture in working-class English places like Luton is what is known as "laddish behavior" at soccer matches. Sometimes it shades over into violence; usually it is just a matter of being loud and boisterous outside stadiums and at nearby pubs. In any event, Robinson has written candidly about this aspect of his youth in his book Enemy of the State. To some readers, the MP's description of Robinson as a "former football hooligan" may seem to reek of class condescension. There has, in fact, been good reason throughout Robinson's career as a public figure to wonder how much of the British authorities' shabby treatment of him can be ascribed to his working-class status. Would an Islam critic with an Oxbridge background, a job at a respected London think tank, and an upper-class accent ever be treated the way Robinson is?
As for Robinson being a "fraudster," this charge, as "L" puts it, "stems from a time when it did appear as if the police were scrutinising him and his family for everything they could find. They took away loads of documents and scrutinised his wife's tax affairs, for instance." Eventually he was arrested for lending his brother-in-law £20,000 to help him qualify for a housing loan. A year later, the brother-in-law sold the house for £30,000 and repaid Robinson. As "L" says, "it was a completely victimless crime." Robinson "pleaded guilty for what his lawyer (somewhat understandably) thought would be a non-custodial sentence" and, according to Robinson, on the promise by police had "that if he pleaded guilty they would not go after him financially." Instead, they sent him to prison for eighteen months and was made to pay £125,000. "There are thousands and thousands of people who technically commit mortgage fraud all the time -- e.g. parents who lend deposits to their children and then later get the deposit paid back," says "L." The difference is that Robinson was punished severely for it.
Back to the MP's e-mail. Robinson, he charges,
broke strict reporting rules which exist in court cases for a very good reason: if they are broken, that can lead to the collapse of trials of those alleged to have committed serious crimes such as rape or murder, meaning alleged rapists would walk free.
He was by his actions allowing rapists to get off and this is unacceptable!
More nonsense. Robinson did not break any reporting rules. No rapists got off.
If you believe Tommy Robinson shouldn't be arrested, you are saying the law shouldn't apply to him because you agree with his obsessive anti-Muslim hatred.
On the contrary, Robinson has repeatedly made it clear that he doesn't hate Muslims -- his problem is with Islam. Every brave, halfway intelligent Briton who sees what Islam is doing to his country feels the same way. Note, incidentally, that the MP, in this reply to one of his own constituents -- one of his employers -- is essentially calling her a bigot. This, even though he does not know her at all, and all she did was to express her concern about what, by any measure, was an exceedingly irregular arrest, trial, conviction, and imprisonment.
The MP concludes his reply as follows:
I didn't see [Robinson] trying to break reporting restrictions around the trial of a senior English Defence League member who groomed a 10 year old girl, did you? That's because his agenda is bigotry and hatred, and nothing more.
Once again, ridiculous. A single isolated case of rape by a non-Muslim has nothing whatsoever to do with the almost exclusively Muslim phenomenon of "grooming gangs," which involve sexual abuse by gangs of men of large stables of girls over a period of years. The contempt for infidels and disrespect for females that make these atrocities possible are part and parcel of the perpetrators' culture and religion.
Yes, of course non-Muslims in Britain kill and rape, too -- and if the police find out about it, they arrest the suspect and put him on trial. Robinson's whole point is that for decades Muslim rapists have not been treated in the same way. All too many British police officers and judges will use any excuse to let a Muslim rapist go. In 2014, for example, an imam who had sexually abused an eleven-year-old girl was given a suspended sentence because his six children "were so dependent on him" and because he had "kidney problems." To explain why his presence at home was so urgent, the imam's lawyer said that the imam's wife "doesn't work and speaks very little English." But to criticize any of this, in the eyes of that Labour MP, is to have an "agenda" of "bigotry and hatred."
Notably, the MP's full support for the way in which the police and court handled the Robinson case is not shared by the editors of the Independent -- the British broadsheet that, along with Leeds Live, spearheaded the media campaign against the gag order. In an editorial on Tuesday, the day that order was lifted, the editors accepted the absurd proposition that Robinson was guilty of "contempt of court" and pronounced his thirteen-month sentence "justified and proportionate." That much is predictable enough from a newspaper that is every bit as left-wing as the Guardian. The surprising part is the Independent's acknowledgment that whatever one thinks of Robinson,
It cannot be right, whatever else, that a British citizen can be deprived of their liberty "in the dark," the very fact of their whereabouts made a secret. It feels wrong, and, in spirit at least, partly in breach of the ancient principle of habeas corpus.
The answer to the question "Where's Tommy?" cannot be: "We know but we cannot tell you because a court says so."
Well, that's something, anyway. But millions of Britons reject entirely the Independent's assurances that Robinson has received justice. One of them is Paul Weston of Pegida, who, in a new video, maintains that "judicial power never been used before to silence a journalist in Britain and then to silence the silencing." That police and the Luton court to have taken such an action so quickly, Weston theorized, proves that this was not the work of some rank-and-file cop or some mid-level constabulary paper-pusher. "This lie came directly from Theresa May's government," charged Weston.
"This lie came from the very top down and it was planned to the last detail. A courtroom and a judge were waiting to immediately sentence him. A prison cell was booked in his name.... This combined is the action of a totalitarian state, in all its brutal horror."
Given the swiftness with which Robinson was snatched up off the street, transported to a courtroom, tried without his own counsel present, and then taken to a waiting prison cell -- a brazen series of events that it is hard to imagine anyone below the highest of levels having the power or the nerve to orchestrate -- it is hard to challenge Weston's suggestion that Theresa May herself is behind this travesty of justice. If that is what happened, then it certainly helps to clarify just what Britain, and the Free World, are up against.
Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. His other books include A Place at the Table (1993), Stealing Jesus (1997), Surrender (2009), and The Victims' Revolution (2012). A native New Yorker, he has lived in Europe since 1998.