Just about everyone now has come to the conclusion that former English Defence League leader Stephen Lennon’s supposed break with extremism is nothing of the sort. Even mad Maryam Namazie takes the view that “this is all a publicity stunt for Tommy to reinvent himself into a more palatable persona without any lasting change in his politics”.
Apart from the charlatans at Quilliam who “facilitated” Lennon’s shift from street thuggery to a more presentable form of the same Islamophobia, David Toube (“Alan A”) and Sarah Annes Brown of Harry’s Place are among the few commentators stupid and self-deluded enough to have accepted Lennon’s conversion as good coin. And now they have been joined by Lejla Kurić at Left Foot Forward (edited by James Bloodworth, who shares not a little of Lennon’s hostility towards Islam).
In an article headed “The day I met Tommy Robinson”, Kurić writes:
What really struck me was the fact Robinson was prepared put aside differences and work with Muslims for the sake of community relations in this country. This is not the attitude of a hateful fascist he is often made out to be.
Yes, he has made some regrettable comments in the past but it is unfair to indefinitely punish him for his past when he is moving in the right direction. It is movement we ought to encourage and support.
The commentators complaining about Robinson’s lack of a ‘Damascene conversion’ are missing the point. He has come a long way from a man threatening ‘every single Muslim’ to the man I watched positively engaging with Muslims.
The fact that the former EDL leader, former Hizb ut-Tahrir members, former Jihadists, Muslims, ex-Muslims and others were sitting at the same table openly debating extremism, the role of religion and culture was extraordinary. I would go as far as to say it was even a historic occasion.
This is precisely the kind of cutting edge, anti-extremism work this country really needs and, in that regard, the Quilliam Foundation is leading the way.
It is worth mentioning that Kurić is herself a contributor to Harry’s Place, where she can be found expressing her admiration for Zuhdi Jasser’s so-called American Islamic Forum for Democracy, hailing it as one of the few organisations she recognises as “representative of a genuinely progressive strain within Islam”.