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Robinson’s release a ploy to legitimize Islamophobia: Expert

Catherine Shakdom speaking to Press TV.

An expert tells Press TV that the release from jail of a top racist and Islamophobic figure in Britain is a ploy to legitimize the Islamophobia campaign in the country.

Catherine Shakdam, who serves as director of Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies in London, said Thursday that a court’s decision to release Tommy Robinson on bail a day earlier was in line with the general political agenda in Britain and other Western countries to stigmatize the Muslims.

“How else would you want to understand his release other than somehow legitimization of Islamophobia,” said Shakdam, calling Robinson a fascist who constantly spreads hate against Muslims and other minorities.

Shakdam elaborated on the fact that there was a huge public and political pressure, especially from the alt-right camp in the United States, to have Robinson released, claiming that the court and the British judicial authorities had been influenced by the pro-Robinson campaign.

“There has been a campaign led quite interestingly enough from the US for his release,” she said, adding, “... quite clearly something happened for this decision to be made.”

Shakdam said the British government and the judicial system had a responsibility to prevent people like Robinson from spreading hate against minorities, especially against the Muslims and the refugees. She said, however, that they escape that responsibility because Robinson’s hate campaign serves some of their interests.

“This is where the government and the law need to intervene and they have not it on their job at all because it serves their agenda,” she said.

The expert said people like Robinson were “treated differently” by the British justice system, adding that Muslims in the UK could never be treated like Robinson if they were implicated in legal prosecutions.

The activist said Britain’s tolerance for racist ideas would be a threat for its multi-cultural structure, adding that if authorities allow hate to spread in the society it would lead to the collapse of justice and social system.

On Wednesday, Robinson, the founder of the English Defence League (EDL), was released from Onley prison near Rugby where he was serving a 13-month jail sentence for contempt of the court charges.

He would be free on bail and should face a retrial for contempt charges other than the one related to his broadcasting outside a court in Leeds in May where a trial was held with blanket reporting restrictions.

Robinson’s release comes amid increased anger about his role in fueling anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiments in Britain. He is known for staging rallies against the spread of Islam in London in 2013 and has been described as a violent far-right racist.

There were reports that people close to US President Donald Trump, including former advisor Steve Bannon, were doing their best to have him released.

Sam Brownback, Trump’s envoy for international religious freedom, also discussed Robinson’s case at a June lunch with British ambassador Kim Darroch while Donald Trump Jr, the US president’s son, commented about the prisoner in one of his tweets.

Trump supporters have even paid for Robinson’s defense and protests with US-based Middle East Forum, a right-wing think-tank which has famous British fellows on board, spending tens of thousands of dollars to foot his legal bills, among other activities.

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