HOPE not hate have unearthed a series of shocking deleted tweets by North West MEP candidate Tommy Robinson, who sought to dangerously ramp up tensions following the attack.
Today is the anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing, in which 22 victims were killed and 139 wounded in a cowardly attack by an Islamist extremist. It is a day when people will come together to remember the tragic events of 22 May 2017, but also the remarkable way in which the city came together in the days and weeks that followed.
However, while most people were mourning and finding ways to support each other and their wider community, Stephen Lennon (AKA Tommy Robinson) – who hopes to be elected tomorrow as a representative of the North West in the European Parliament – seized on the opportunity to spread hate, division and fake news.
In a series of since-deleted tweets unearthed by HOPE not hate, Lennon exposed his own racism, seeking to hold the whole Muslim community responsible for the attack during this extremely sensitive period.
The most shocking and dangerous tweet read: “List of some of the security on duty Monday night in Manchester” that was accompanied by a list of Islamic-sounding names, clearly insinuating that the bomber received help from Muslim security guards at the Arena. Considering the long track record of Lennon’s supporters acting violently towards Muslims, this tweet, later deleted, placed the safety and security of innocent Muslims at risk.
This idea that local Mancunian Muslims should be held collectively responsible for the attack also came through in a shockingly extreme video for the Canadian far-right media outlet Rebel Media, released just a day after the attack, in which he described local Muslims as “enemy combatants”, claiming “in these houses are enemy combatants who want to kill you, maim you and destroy you! They want to destroy our way of life!”.
During the video he claims that “Our children our being killed. They’re being killed. If they’re not being raped and destroyed in Rochdale, Rotherham, they’re being butchered and maimed in city centres outside concert halls! That’s the future for our generations.”
The use of such extreme and inflammatory language so soon after the attack was opportunistic, dangerous and highly irresponsible. He even tweeted: “We are at WAR #Islam”.
As well as spreading hate, Lennon took the opportunity to spread dangerous fake news, tweeting on the day of the attack: “Now there’s a gunman at Oldham hospital”, despite this not being the case.
When police and politicians were trying to calm peoples nerves and ease people’s fears, Lennon was taking to social media to spread harmful falsities.
The people of Manchester taught Britain a lesson in how to react to unimaginable tragedy by coming together, showing unity and love. Yet, time and time again, be it terrorist attacks or child sexual exploitation, Lennon has shown that he will use and abuse tragedies to sow hatred and advance his politics of division.