Protesters took to the streets of London on Saturday in support of an activist who was jailed for reporting on a case that involved four Muslim men accused of grooming and raping a teenage girl.
The actual number of demonstrators is unknown, some media outlets, which don’t appear to give favorable coverage of the protest, say the number is in the hundreds, while others say its in the thousands — video footage indicates the latter.
The activist, Tommy Robinson, was arrested and sentenced to 13 months in jail for “contempt of court” — 10 months for breach of peace and three for violating his probation — for reporting outside of court in London on May 25. He was under probation and barred from reporting on the sensitive case.
Anticipating critiques of silencing the media and violating freedom of the press, the judge ruled that the issue wasn’t about “freedom of the press, nor about legitimate journalism, and not about political correctness,” but “about preserving the integrity of the jury to continue without people being intimidated or being affected by irresponsible and inaccurate ‘reporting.'”
Robinson supporters worry that due to the high number of Muslims in prison and Robinson’s reputation his life is at stake.
The arrest sparked protests on May 26 around the world in the U.S., Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and of course the U.K. and free speech activists have been busy since then trying to free the controversial figure. (RELATED: UK Arrests Islam Critic For Reporting On Grooming Gang Trial)
Thousands of people peacefully protested what they considered an unjust arrest, at the most recent “Free Tommy Robinson” protest Saturday. A counter protest of left-wing activists accused the demonstrators of being “Nazi scum” and “fascists.” Some of them held signs that said “Fry Tommy.”
London police at Trafalgar Square in riot gear attempted to keep the peace, but tensions escalated. When the police used force on the protesters, they began attacking them. The police fled as some demonstrators charged them, as seen in the footage.
Not all protesters were violent, and the police arrested five people, the BBC reported Saturday. Five policemen were injured in the protest.
Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician and member of the Party for Freedom, delivered a speech to the protesters, echoing the message to the crowd, “Free Tommy Robinson.”
“Tommy Robinson is the greatest freedom fighter of Britain today,” Wilders said to applause.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, is a 35-year old husband and the father of three children. He is an outspoken critic of the U.K.’s immigration policies, particularly as they relate to Islam.
If the U.K.’s immigration policy is left in place, the Muslim population will go from 4.1 million in 2016 to triple that by 2050, 13 million, according to Pew Research, The Telegraph reported. A “record influx of asylum seekers fleeing conflicts in Syria and other predominantly Muslim countries” will cause the demographic rise, according to the research.
“Overall, an estimated 43 per cent of all migrants to the UK between mid-2010 and mid-2016 were Muslims,” Pew Research noted.
Robinson is the former leader of the English Defense League (EDL).
“We have risen from the English working class to act, lead and inspire in the struggle against global Islamification,” the EDL’s mission statement reads.
The EDL received criticism from the British Criminology Conference in 2010 over being “Islamophobic” and Robinson has since left the group.
Major British media outlets like Sky News describe Robinson as “far right” and “anti-Muslim,” but supporters of Robinson like Wilders call him a patriot and a freedom fighter.
“Our governments sold us out with mass immigration, with Islamization, with open boarders. We are are almost foreigners in our own land. And if we complain about it, they call us racists or Islamophobes. But I say no more.” Wilders said.
“Enough is enough … no more tyranny. … Do you want to be Britain or Saudi Arabia?” he added.
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