Oxford Union invites ex-EDL leader for the third time
Categories: Latest News
Thursday November 27 2014
BBC News and the Daily Mail both cover reaction to the news that the former leader of the English Defence League, Stephen Lennon, has been invited to address the Oxford Union. Lennon went by the name Tommy Robinson when leader of the EDL.
Lennon, who has recently served a prison sentence for mortgage fraud, has sought to distance himself from his past role agitating and organising anti-Muslim protests across the country by claiming he is a ‘reformed character’.
But as an open letter by the Oxford branch of Unite Against Fascism points out, Lennon has not so much rescinded his views as gone on to repeat them.
In an open letter signed by almost 200 people, including luminaries like film director Ken Loach and Professor Avi Shlaim, and a host of councillors at Oxford City Council, signatories criticised the OU’s decision citing evidence of his unrepentant anti-Muslim views.
The open letter states:
“Robinson may have abandoned trying to lead a fascist street army but he continues to incite racial hatred against Muslims under the same false flag of tackling extremism that he used while leading the EDL. Robinson has recently showed his continuing support for the EDL tweeting “Happy to hear the EDL gave me a round of applause for me before their demo. The EDL will always hold a place in my heart” as well as circulating lies demonising Muslims with statements like “30,000 Muslims marched through Birmingham demanding these same blasphemy laws.”
“Oxford is a multicultural city that has been targeted by fascists in the National Front trying to stir up race hatred by exploiting the suffering of rape victims and scapegoating Muslim men as the problem using the same arguments and language Robinson is using. By inviting Tommy Robinson the Oxford Union is contributing to a climate of Islamophobia which only encourages fascists onto the streets of Oxford. The Oxford Union should not be giving racists and Islamophobes the prestige of speaking at their institution and we demand Robinson’s invitation is withdrawn.”
This is the third time the Oxford Union has invited the former far right leader with two earlier events being cancelled due to security concerns and Lennon’s imprisonment.
Lennon also had a school tour cancelled earlier this year after a visit to the Duchess Community High School in Northumberland was stopped by the headteacher amidst complaints by parents that Lennon was no role model for schoolchildren.
You can sign the UAF open letter here.