Many viewers were shocked to see Tommy Robinson given a platform on Good Morning Britain, one of the most watched breakfast news programmes, on 20 June. It is important to note the context in which this interview took place.
The interview happened just over 24 hours after the Finsbury Park terrorist attack outside the Muslim Welfare House (MWH). Osborne was arrested on suspicion of commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder, after allegedly mowing down Muslim worshippers leaving the MWH and Finsbury Park Mosque using a white van. Witnesses reported that he said "I want to kill all Muslims."
Two weeks earlier Robinson led a violent demonstration in Manchester on 11 June 2017. Pigs heads - in order to offend and provoke Muslims - and glass bottles were thrown at anti-fascist demonstrators opposing Robinson's thugs. Earlier that day EDL supporters attacked a Mosque in Manchester and intimidated worshippers. This was a cynical attempt to exploit the Manchester attack in order to build support for a racist and Islamophobic hate movement in Britain.
In this context, the Robinson interview illustrates the double standards in the response to Isis-type terrorist attacks versus far right/fascist terrorist attacks. Good Morning Britain would rightly not dream of inviting someone claiming to be an Isis supporter a day after the London Bridge, Manchester or Westminster terrorist attacks. Unfortunately the equivalent was deemed appropriate after the attack in Finsbury Park.
Experienced journalists often think they can grill the likes of Robinson and expose them. This mistakes them for people that are interested in debate and discussion. Fascists want a platform to peddle hatred and mainstream media should not give it to them. Robinson held up the Qu'ran stating falsehoods such as "there are hundreds of verses in this book that incite violence and murder against us." He should be investigated by the police, not interviewed on major news outlets.
When Isis-type terrorist attacks occur, commentators rightly ask what radicalised the monsters that committed these awful terrorist atrocities. The same question must be asked in relation to the Finsbury Park terrorist attack. What made Darren Osborne allegedly commit this heinous crime and say he wanted to kill all Muslims?
Counter-terrorism police must investigate all far right and fascist organisations. But examining far-right and fascist groups is not enough. These groups and prominent individuals in them, did not emerge out of a vacuum. They exist in a political climate where hostility towards Muslims has increased substantially. This is sharply reflected in many tabloid press headlines and right wing political commentators. Their role in radicalising people that commit acts of hatred and violence must be examined.
A serious approach to countering terrorism includes one which embraces anti-racism, challenges Islamophobia and asserts the right of everyone to express faith, culture and beliefs so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others to do the same. This approach helps to undermine racist and fascist groups, and the narrative peddled by Isis type groups which seeks to portray Britain as intolerant towards Muslims.Suggest a correction