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.”
Tommy Robinson has been arrested in Leeds court for reporting on grooming gangs. More updates to follow pic.twitter.com/iEPDoNOKHM— Caolan Robertson (@CaolanRob) 25 мая 2018 г.
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:
I am hearing reports that Tommy Robinson has been arrested for ‘a breach of the peace’ while live-streaming a report on a grooming gang (sex slave) trial at Leeds Crown Court. Further reports say he has received a custodial sentence. What kind of Police state have we become?— Gerard Batten MEP (@GerardBattenMEP) 25 мая 2018 г.
I do not know much about Tommy Robinson's background, since most sources are unreliable (to say the least). I am not a fan of the far-right or the far-left. But imprisoning a man who reports on grooming gangs because of an idiotic law is enough to get me riled up. #FreeTommy— Gabe Spark (@gabi_scntee) 27 мая 2018 г.
Things that can get you thrown in jail in the UK:— BrianMichael (@BrianMichaelTO) May 28, 2018
1) Carrying a knife with a blade larger than 3 inches
2) Saying something mean on social media
3) Leaving bacon on the door of a mosque
4) Interviewing a grooming gang member on their way to court#FreeTommyRobinson #FreeTommy
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…
He is a convicted criminal & a well known racist. Rather telling that u came out whining in favour of convicted Tommy. We have the Police & the Courts & dont need ur right wing (or criminal Tommy's) input. When/if "the Law" wants ur little xenophobic opinion they will ask. 🤡— REVOLUTION #FBPE #PeoplesVote (@GayRiot) 25 мая 2018 г.
Isn’t it against the law to stream from court? Plus he is racist prick. Used to be in the BNF then EDL @GerardBattenMEP what more proof do you need?UKIP protesting over a racist?Nigel let his minions take the flak for any racism in UKIP but you just grab the flag & March!— originalkitten (@originalkitten) 25 мая 2018 г.
…with British journalist Piers Morgan being among them:
Please spare me all the ill-informed crap about Tommy Robinson. He knew exactly what he was doing & what the consequences would be for doing it. Contempt of court is a very serious thing during active proceedings, for what should be very obvious reasons — even to knuckleheads.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) 28 мая 2018 г.
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.
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.