U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona traveled to London last weekend, where he shared the stage with a number of European far-right figures who gathered for a rally in support of anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.
The July 14 rally was the second demonstration in London recently in response to Robinson’s jailing. He was sentenced to 13 months of prison time after he was found guilty of being in contempt of court for potentially spoiling a just trial.
Gosar’s appearance at the event comes after a Reuters report claiming that Sam Brownback, Donald Trump’s ambassador for international religious freedom, discussed Robinson’s plight during a meeting he had recently with the British ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch.
The rally, bankrolled by the American think tank Middle East Forum (MEF) and headed by anti-Muslim activist Daniel Pipes, was attended by a smattering of English far-right figures, including politicians from a number of European countries who lambasted Islam and Muslim immigrants.
Gosar appears to be sympathetic to nativist rhetoric. The Arizona congressman has appeared numerous times on notorious anti-Muslim figure Frank Gaffney’s radio program. In March, Gosar spoke at the Western Conservative Conference in Phoenix. One of the panels at the conference was titled the “Islamic/Communist Threat” and featured former FBI agent turned ant-Muslim conspiracy theorist John Guandolo. In 2017, Gosar linked to the anti-immigrant hate group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) in a series of tweets.
One of the speakers at the London rally was Filip Dewinter of the Belgian far-right Vlaams Belang party. “And the enemy, my friends, is Islam!” Dewinter told the crowd. “The enemy is Islam, because the Quran is a military manual to wage war against the West. The Quran is a license to kill!” Just two years ago, Dewinter was in Tennessee, speaking at the white nationalist American Renaissance conference.
Anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders compared Robinson to Winston Churchill in his video-recorded speech and lamented, “My friends, all over Western Europe, our governments are turning our countries into provinces of the Middle East and Africa. They have opened our borders to mass immigration and Islamization. We are losing our country, our culture, our identity, our freedom and our children are no longer safe. And now they have started jailing those who object.”
Another speaker at the event was Kevin Carroll, who, along with Robinson, co-founded the far right English Defence League (EDL). Carroll and the emcee for the event, Raheem Kassam, an MEF fellow and former editor of Breitbart London, repeatedly pleaded with the crowd to be peaceful. A “Free Tommy” rally in Whitehall earlier in June erupted into violent clashes between attendees and the police.
Gosar’s presence at the rally is the latest example of the transatlantic right-wing outrage over Robinson’s arrest. As reported by Hatewatch in June 2018, a litany of European and American far-right figures have jumped on the “Free Tommy” bandwagon.
Gosar’s participation was especially disturbing to Imraan Siddiqi, head of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "It's inexplicable for a sitting U.S. congressman to speak at, let alone attend, a rally for an infamous, internationally known hate group leader. The congressman is giving legitimacy to these far-right hate groups, merely by showing up and speaking there, and painting him as some sort of political prisoner," Siddiqi told Hatewatch.
Photo from Twitter/Paul Gosar