UK

Tommy Robinson Planning New Organisation, Geller And Spencer Reaffirm Support

06/11/2013 15:52 GMT | Updated 06/11/2013 16:08 GMT

The former leader of the EDL, Tommy Robinson, has reconciled with his transatlantic anti-Islamist friends Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, but has said the American activists, the media and others need to stop criticising his new direction.

In a joint blog-post, Geller and Spencer said Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Lennon, had written to them "emphasising that he has not changed his positions, and the unfolding events have borne that out".

When asked by HuffPost UK, Robinson insisted that it was correct his views had not changed, that they had been about "Islamist ideology" all along.

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"Whatever anyone is doing in any other country, I am my own person. No-one, no other organisation, will be representing what I believe. The new organisation is me, myself. What I think is right for my country. Everyone should butt out," he said.

Referring to recent questioning on whether the EDL founder has changed his views on Islam and Muslims, rather than just his method of protest, Robinson quipped: "With some of the stories I read, I think some people would only be happy if I say 'Allahu Akbar' and converted.

"No-one is actually listening to what I am saying," he said. "I have apologised for some of the actions that were taken, and how that might have affected some Muslims. I am not apologising for what I have done for the last four years in standing up to Islamist ideology. When I say I haven't changed my views, my views have been about Islamist ideology from the beginning.

"I have generalised, it is difficult not to when you are spat at, punched hit and abused every day. I want my new organisation to be working with Muslims who also want reform.

"When people are angry, it's not just channelled at Islamist ideology, it's channelled at Muslims in general. That's reality. I think I am in a position to help separate the two."

Robinson has previously described Islam as a "disease" and the Prophet Muhammad a "murderer, a rapist and a paedophile".

On the night Robinson dumped the street movement, US blogger Geller made clear in a blogpost her strong disapproval of Robinson's relationship with anti-extremism think-tank Quilliam, with whom he announced his departure from the EDL, and with Islamic commentator Mo Ansar, who Robinson filmed a BBC documentary with.

But in a joint post on each of their websites, Geller and Spencer said they had extended their support to Robinson once again.

"We applauded his decision to dissociate himself from the racists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites who persisted in trying to gain control of the English Defence League, but were extremely suspicious of his association with the pseudo-moderate and extremely disingenuous Quilliam Foundation," the blog read.

"Tommy is planning to start a new organization that is as free from Quilliam as it is from the EDL, and in that, and in his ongoing efforts to defend the British freedom and the vision of human rights that Judeo-Christian civilization has given to the world, we wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly support him," the blog reads.

Robinson told HuffPost UK that he does not share the far-right pair's concerns about Quilliam - but wants neither Quilliam nor Geller and Spencer involved in his new organisations.

Quilliam's Maajid Nawaz has made it clear he hopes to keep working with Robinson on extremism issues, saying that the think tank does "hope to continue supporting Tommy and Kevin in their journey to counter Islamism and neo-Nazi extremism."

A spokesman for Quilliam told HuffPost UK that Robinson had no formal link with the group, who had only "facilitated" his departure from the EDL, and nothing more.

When I first met Quilliam, we were suspicious of each other but we are giving each other the benefit of the doubt," Robinson told HuffPost UK.

"When I sit down with Quilliam, they are opposed to most things I am opposed to. I am working with them, and I want to see if they can change my views. "

Robinson, who has expressed his desire to become a more "credible voice", has begun to emphasise more frequently that he has not changed his views on Islam.

Last week he told Russia Today: "Actually, my stance hasn’t dampened or softened at all - if people listen to what I say. What I’ve been saying for 4 1/2 years, which may have been distorted or lost in the translation, due to actions at demonstrations – is what I am saying now."

At the time of his departure, Geller compared Robinson and EDL deputy Kevin Carroll to "American POW's taken by enemy combatants and forced to say things they did not believe before cameras."

Geller and Spencer run Stop The Islamisation Of Nations (SION), which was once touted as a possible new home for Robinson, who would start his own franchise in the UK. Robinson told HuffPost UK that was not the case.

The pair were banned from the UK, in a personal intervention from Home Secretary Theresa May, after a concerted campaign to stop the two addressing an EDL rally in Woolwich.