What was it like to interview the ‘Racist’ Tommy Robinson?

A few days back I came to know that Tommy Robinson is in jail, again.

The man who is ostensibly a ‘Racist’ is also one of the prominent voices against anti-pedophilia and anti-grooming gangs.

White underprivileged girls have long been a target of grooming gangs that have been dubbed Asian by the British Press that couldn’t find any better word to describe their ethnicity.

Tommy Robinson and his band of supporter have been saying that the sexual grooming is largely a ‘Muslim’ and a ‘Pakistani’ problem.

Before We Move On, Here Is What The Two Reports Say Of The Grooming Gangs:

The Quilliam report, Group Based Child Sexual Exploitation: Dissecting Grooming Gangs, written by Haras Rafiq and Muna Adil, pointed that the 84% of grooming gang offenders are Asian, the majority “of Pakistani origin with Muslim heritage”.

Then we also have a report released by a Sikh group named ‘Sikh Mediation and Rehabilitation Team’ that says:

“The research has found verification demonstrating a history of predominantly Pakistani grooming gangs targeting young Sikh females for over 50 years. The over-representation of such perpetrators in selecting non-Muslim victims would appear to be indicative of wider acceptability in certain sections of the community towards the targeting of young females from outside of the Pakistani community and/or Muslim faith.”

I would say that the problem with Pakistani grooming gangs in the UK rests with the culture back home, where the non-Muslim girls have fallen prey to similar thugs, only to be silenced by the state machinery.

Jagjit Kaur’s release is an exception just like in the case of Hindu girl Aneela but not everyone is that lucky, like the missing Sikh girl Anarkali Kaur or Shanu or Momal. Even in the case of Jagjit, it is unlikely that any medical examination would be done to ensure that the girl has not been tortured or abused in any way.

Due to this sort of state patronage, Pakistani Muslim majority has become deeply insensitive to the abuse of the minority back home and it is this attitude that they have carried in the other parts of the world.

Back to Tommy Robinson

In 2015, when I interviewed Tommy Robinson, I had expected to hear his racist rants against ‘all Asians,’ expecting him to be a harsh man who would be shouting and be sullen at every instance. But he turned out to be engaging; he wanted to talk about his beatings in the prison, he wanted to see if the Indians knew about the grooming gangs operating in the UK and whether we, the Indians, cared at all. He also narrated some of his own personal experiences but his harshness only came out whenever the British police or the politicians were discussed.

Tommy Robinson told me that the White girls of the mostly working-class community faced a harrowing time when they sought help from the police. It was shocking to hear him speak like this, mostly because, it was unexpected. Not once did he try to portray himself as the ‘Saviour’.

The Interview Call

I started the interview asking him if he could understand my Indian accent, to which he replied in the affirmative. He also asked if I could understand his British accent.

I asked him a lot of questions, like why he was going after the Muslims, to which he replied that while the Muslims account for a small percentage of the British population, yet they have created some ‘No-Go Zones’ and were also heavily involved in the targeted abuse of the White girls.

He also claimed that he disagreed with the usage of the term ‘Asian’ by the British Press to describe the ethnicity of the grooming gangs when the majority once were Muslims of Afghan or Pakistani origin.

I remember that he had said he felt it was unfair to drag in the Chinese and the Vietnamese in the grooming epidemic.

When I asked if there were no White pedophiles in the UK, Tommy Robinson again brought in the population of the Muslims, also asking that why were only the non-Muslim girls targeted by these grooming gangs? He suggested it was done by design.

Tommy Robinson also mentioned the British Hindus and Sikhs and praised them for their conduct.

Seeing his stance against the Muslims, I went on to ask him, that what does he want to do with the Muslims?

I asked him straight away that ‘do you want to send them all back like I have seen many online commentators suggest?’

Surprisingly for me, he merely said that ‘I only want them to assimilate with our culture and accept Britain.’

When I pushed on the assimilation part, Robinson said that he only wanted that they (Muslims) do not create any no-go zones or target the non-Muslim girls.

There was no rhetoric as I had expected, it was a calm answer, perhaps calculated too.

The only time I could hear him fume was when he told me that the British police never bothered to check how the underage girls were getting into drugs and alcohol or checking where the money was coming for all these things. He was equally scathing when it came to the British politicians in general.

I went back to the assimilation part again and asked if he were only uttering this to make himself presentable to the ‘Asian’ audience.

He denied the charge and instead suggested that his close circle is well aware of his stance.

I also remember that he used the word ‘girls’ for the survivors of the grooming gangs, to which I objected calling them ‘kids’ instead, to which he quickly corrected himself. Perhaps, his narration of the grooming gangs got on to my nerves, or else the usage of ‘girls’ was not incorrect, but since in my culture, we often describe children in a gender-neutral way hence, it came out at the wrong time and amidst the interview.

He never sounded dismissive but simply said that he understands and went on talking about his own life, part of which I do not recall now, except that he got a black eye after an attack on him in the prison.

When he wrote the book  Enemy of the State, he sent me the link to hear his side of the story or perhaps he wanted me to review it.

I did neither due to some personal commitments at that time. I still don’t know what has earned him this jail term, but I do hope that he gets a fair hearing, as do those accused of grooming. We all deserve a fair chance, in my humble opinion.

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Interviewing Tommy Robinson, however, was an eye-opener and shattered several pre-conceived ideas. It made me understand that even the ‘First World’ can be rather third-rate when it comes to the vulnerable.

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Namta Gupta