09:26 GMT +319 September 2019
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    (File) Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson, former leader of the right-wing EDL (English Defence League) is escorted away by police from a Britain First march and an English Defence League march in central London on April 4, 2017

    #FreeTommyRobinson: Over 400,000 Sign Petition Demanding Release of UK Activist

    © AFP 2019 / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS
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    The petition comes high on the heels of protests over the weekend, when hundreds of people gathered at the gates of Downing Street to protest the arrest of right-wing activist Tommy Robinson, contending that he was being unfairly detained for reporting on “Muslim grooming gangs.”

    A Change.org petition, demanding that British right-wing activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, known by the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, be freed, has gathered over 400,000 signatures on the first day of its launch. He was detained by police officers while livestreaming outside a Leeds courthouse, where a gang rape trial was being held, for a “breach of the peace.”

    During the weekend, London was hit by protests, with members of the crowd seen holding “#FreeTommy” and “Free the truth teller” signs, brandishing flags, including the St George Cross, the Union Jack and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) logo.

    Meanwhile, social media users have launched the hashtag #FreeTommy to raise awareness about the incident, blasting British media for insufficient coverage of the situation. The opinions of users on social media are divided on the matter, with some saying that he spoke out against the growing influence of Islamic extremism:

    The leader of the right-wing Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), Geert Wilders, who came second in the 2017 parliamentary elections, has also joined the campaign in support of the British activist.

    Others claimed that he is a racist and violated the law…

    …with British journalist Piers Morgan being among them:

    READ MORE: UK Denies Entry to Leader of Germany's PEGIDA Anti-Islamization Movement

    Rallies in support of the the right-wing activist were also held abroad, including in Canada and Australia.

    Robinson, who has allegedly violated the UK’s law on covering criminal trials, was already on a suspended sentence for contempt of court for using a camera in Canterbury Crown Court last May, when he had tried to film men, who were on trial on rape charges, while the hearing was still underway. If he is found guilty of breaching the terms of his prior sentence, the activist may be detained for up to three months.

    READ MORE: 'Incredible Solidarity': UK Muslim Group Slams Anti-Semitism in Full-Page Ad

    Back in 2015, Robinson, who is the founder of the right-wing street protest movement, the English Defense League, reportedly aimed to launch a British branch of the German anti-Islamization group PEGIDA, which made headlines in 2014 after it released a manifesto, calling for the defense of Christian culture and, at the same time, a demonstration of tolerance for moderate Muslims.

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    gang rape, Tommy Robinson, Britain
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