Tommy Robinson’s invite to Oxford causes controversy

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Originally due to address the Oxford Union on 23 October before being returned to prison, Robinson’s invite has caused controversy, with anti-fascist groups calling for him to be cancelled.

An open letter published by Searchlight states: “the Oxford Union is helping a vile fascist spread his poison by inviting Tommy Robinson”, and that “by inviting Tommy Robinson the Oxford Union is contributing to a climate of Islamophobia which only encourages fascists”.

Robinson left the EDL in October 2013, saying: “I want to lead the revolution against Islamist ideology, I don’t want to lead the revolution against Muslims”.

However, he has been criticised by campaigners, who say Robinson “continues to incite racial hatred against Muslims” and “issue anti-Muslim statements via social media”.

Here at Student Rights we have highlighted the danger posed to campuses by the far-right and called for Robinson to be prevented from speaking at Oxford in July 2013 – yet this is a more complex case.

If counter-extremism work is to be successful there must be the prospect of redemption for former extremists which allows reintegration into civic spaces like universities.

Providing a platform for individuals to explain why they were attracted to extremism can in fact be extremely valuable – provided they have truly abandoned their views.

However, with Robinson there are serious concerns about whether this is the case.

Just a brief scan of his social media output over the past few months shows him sharing anti-

Muslim sentiment including references to a “Rotherham rape jihad”, claims “all groomers are Muslim”, and posts defending the EDL.

He has also shared a video attacking “the horrific Muslim infiltration of Britain”.

That Robinson still expresses these views will leave many Muslim students feeling deeply alienated on-campus, and must be taken into account by the event organisers.

It should also ensure they reconsider whether to give Robinson a platform – and that if the event does go ahead that Robinson can be challenged by students on these and other comments.

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