Fox News host Brian Kilmeade told the leader of a violent nationalist hate group that targets British Muslims, “We got your back” and “it's great what you're doing.”
Kilmeade offered his endorsement to the English Defence League (EDL) and co-founder Tommy Robinson, who appeared as a guest on the June 10 edition of Kilmeade's Fox News Radio program. Kilmeade's support followed an interview in which Robinson railed against the immigration of Muslims into the United Kingdom, and warned of Muslims “forcefully putting us under Sharia” Law and planning a “silent takeover” to “implement Sharia” in his country and across the world.
Robinson (whose real name is Stephen Lennon) also said he didn't regret his recent conviction for using a false identity document to enter the United States to attend an anti-Islam event with anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller. Robinson pleaded guilty and was jailed in January and released in February. Robinson's offense was not his first brush with the law.
Fox News has previously reported on the violent and fringe nature of the EDL. On August 28, 2010, America's News HQ anchor Gregg Jarrett noted there were “hundreds of extreme right-wing protesters rioting in northern England. Members of the so-called English Defence League tossing bottles and rocks at police in the city of Bradford. There's the map. Police penned the group in, keeping them away from a separate rally headed by a leftist group. The English Defence League opposes what it calls the spread of Sharia Law and Islamic extremism in England. Police arrested five people, but there are no reports of any injuries.”
Several other news outlets have similarly described the EDL as a violent and extreme anti-Muslim group:
- The Associated Press described the EDL as “anti-immigrant” and “a right-wing nationalist group.” The AP also reported: “The English Defense League says it is a non-racist group set up to oppose the spread of militant Islam. But at previous demonstrations its members have clashed with police, chanted anti-Muslim slogans and made Nazi salutes.”
- The Guardian reported that the EDL has “staged a number of violent protests in towns and cities across the country this year” and is “targeting some of the UK's highest-profile Muslim communities.” The British paper reported that it “attended its demonstrations and witnessed racism, violence and virulent Islamophobia” and found “a number of known rightwing extremists who are taking an interest in the movement - from convicted football hooligans to members of violent rightwing splinter groups.”
- The New York Times' The Lede blog described the EDL as a “virulently anti-Islam group” and noted it "sent a delegation to New York to attend a rally on Sept. 11, 2010 against the building of an Islamic cultural center and mosque in Lower Manhattan."
- CNN has described the EDL as “a far right extremist group.”
- NPR has called the EDL “a far right anti-Muslim fringe group.”
Despite the group's extreme ideology and violent nature, Kilmeade gave Robinson an enthusiastic and unchallenged platform for nearly 15 minutes to rail against Muslims. Among Robinson's claims:
- “Sit and work out the demographics. Look at how our country's changed. I think, every ten years the Islamic community doubles ... Where does it stop?”
- “In the World War, we need America's help. Now in this country, we need America's support because we need to take our country back.”
- “In thirty years' time, they will be forcefully putting us under Sharia. There will be a violent struggle across this country, complete civil breakdown and disorder.”
- “I don't regret doing it at all.” -- Robinson on entering the United States with improper documentation.
- "That's the tip of the iceberg. You see, the violent jihadists -- now they are a real problem and they do [inaudible] what they're doing. But this silent jihad that's going on. This silent takeover and planning to take over and implement Sharia, they're the ones I'm terrified of because they're actually sitting around tables of government. They're actually in positions of power. They've infiltrated major positions across the whole entire government. And I say don't listen to what we're saying. Listen to what they're saying. They're openly telling us they want to take over the country. They're openly committing treason. They're openly Islamifying areas, and it has to end, and that's what we're saying.
At the conclusion of the interview, Kilmeade told Robinson: “Well Tommy, we got your back, and we'll definitely look to keep in touch and I really think it's a very -- it's great what you're doing.” After the interview, Kilmeade tweeted: “Englishdefenseleague.org [sic] check out Tommy Robinson and his mission to rid brit ian [sic] of muslim extremists @foxandfriends."
Media Matters has previously noted that Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor also gave Robinson a platform to push his views. Host Bill O'Reilly noted reports calling the EDL “fascist” and “racist,” and described the group's views as militant, but didn't cover the group's history of violent actions.
The Guardian reported today that the BBC has been recently criticized for “giving an uncritical platform to” Robinson, “who was interviewed on the Radio 4 Today programme on Tuesday morning. ... He admitted that the organisation has 'completely questionable' tactics and said 'the non-Muslim working class don't have a voice' and warned 'it's not going to end pretty'.”
Kilmeade, who also co-hosts Fox & Friends, has a long history of pushing Islamophobia on Fox News. For instance, Kilmeade has (twice) claimed that “all terrorists are Muslims,” proposed bugging U.S. mosques, and said that Muslims “have to understand” they're being profiled because of “the war that was declared on us.”
Listen to Kilmeade's full interview with the EDL's Tommy Robinson from the June 10 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
UPDATE: Huffington Post United Kingdom reported that Kilmeade's pro-EDL remarks have caused “horror among anti-fascist activists”:
Hope Not Hate director Nick Lowles told HuffPost UK said the channel "obviously doesn't know who the EDL leader is.
"If they did they would know his name was Stephen Lennon and he has several convictions for violence, including being imprisoned for attacking a police officer.
“I would like to think that if they knew about the EDL then they would know that its supporters have been involved in murders, arsons and violent assaults. However, Fox News has a track record of providing platforms for the so-called 'Counter-Jihad' movement and Islamophobes and so their understanding of the EDL leader is depressingly predictable.”
Faith Matters director Fiyaz Mughal, who co-ordinates the Islamophobia monitoring group Tell Mama, has appeared on news programmes with Robinson. He told HuffPost UK: "Tommy Robinson, seems to be an angry young man whose fixation on Islam and Muslims is not healthy for communities, nor for himself.
“Whilst pleasant and courteous, he nonetheless is part of the ratcheting up of tensions through his far right group.”