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    Members of the Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA) and supporters protest outside the British consulate in support of jailed British right-wing activist and former leader to the English Defence League (EDL) Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, in Melbourne on June 9, 2018

    'Assault on Free Speech': GOP Lawmaker Speaks at Free Tommy Robinson Rally

    © AFP 2019 / William WEST
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    Republican congressman Paul Gosar spoke at a rally to free Robinson, a right-wing activist who was sentenced to 13 months in jail for breaching the peace outside a UK court house in May for reporting on a trial of a child molestation case involving Muslim immigrants.

    "For years now, we have lived with a full-frontal assault on free speech. A full-frontal assault on people who think, who through thick and thin and sometimes with rough edges have sought to defend the freedoms our forefathers fought alongside one another and died for. That's why when I first heard of the case of Tommy Robinson, I could not stay silent," Gosar said, speaking at a "Free Tommy Robinson" rally in London over the weekend.

    "What do we want? We want Tommy out!" the Arizona congressman said, speaking before a crowd of 6,000-8,000 people protesting Robinson's treatment. Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon, is the co-founder of the English Defense League, a group which has been known to carry out violent anti-Islamic extremism and anti-immigrant demonstrations.

    Touting Americans' First Amendment right to free speech, Gosar told the crowd, "What you are doing here today is effectively a precursor to a campaign on your own First Amendment."

    "Tommy is a citizen journalist who has had his freedoms taken away by the British justice system. And for what? For speaking out against great demonstrable injustices. We watched in horror in the United States as we read about the raping 'grooming gangs' all around the country. I remember reading about it years ago, and the media tried and shut people up and calling them racists, or worse. And then it was proven true. Thousands of young and vulnerable girls were systematically targeted and raped, and groomed by predominantly Asian men over decades. Very few people were held to account. They say Asian, but we don't. Let's tell the truth. … We know that these men come predominantly from Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Muslim backgrounds," the congressman said.

    "I'm sure there are many in those communities who are just as disgusted as we are, and embarrassed that these men have lived amongst them for so long. So firstly, I want to say to these people: come, stand with us, get out here and speak out," Gosar added.

    Chanting "We want Tommy out!" with the crowd, the lawmaker encouraged others to lobby for Robinson's freedom.

    Earlier, Sam Brownback, the Trump administration's ambassador on religious freedom, was reported to have lobbied London to look into Robinson's case and warned that Washington may publicly call out the British government if his treatment in prison isn't improved.

    Robinson has received support from the UK Independence Party, Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders, alt-right journalists, and the Middle East Forum, a US conservative think tank whose stated mission includes the protection of anti-Islamist activists.

    An online petition for Robinson's release has gathered over 600,000 signatures. Supporters have staged several rallies to free him.


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