The Arizona chapter of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights group on Wednesday condemned a congressman for appearing at a London rally in support of a jailed far-right British activist.
Republican Rep. Paul Gosar recently spoke at a rally supporting the jailed British far-right activist Tommy Robinson. The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Robinson co-founded an Islamophobic group called the English Defence League.
“It is inexplicable for a sitting U.S. congressman to speak at, let alone attend a rally for someone responsible for spreading as much hate and bigotry as Tommy Robinson,” CAIR-AZ Executive Director Imraan Siddiqi said in a statement. “We condemn the congressman’s choice to stand with far-right Islamophobic conspiracy-theorists, and call on elected officials from both parties to speak out on this matter.”
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is serving a 13-month jail sentence for contempt of court after he was arrested in May while livestreaming from outside a criminal trial.
Video footage of last Sunday’s rally shows Gosar, a Republican, calling Robinson a citizen journalist who had his freedoms taken away by the justice system. Last week, Gosar expressed concern about Robinson while the House of Representatives was in session.
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“His real crime is not taking pictures; his real crime is his refusal to agree to the government’s efforts to cover up crimes by Muslim gangs who are raping British girls, almost with impunity, and with little apparent regard by the British government,” Gosar said, according to a copy of the congressional record.
Gosar’s spokeswoman, Melissa Brown said, “The truth is neither ‘islamophobic’ nor racist. It’s simply truth. CAIR has not disputed the facts. CAIR is condemning me for guilt by association.” She added: “Congress long ago determined CAIR was not a legitimate organization that should be deemed a credible source.”