Well after what can only be called a promotional coup for Tommy Robinson and a jilted elbow to Mohammed Ansar, what does such programming give us an insight into? Does it give us an insight into the lives of people – possibly? Does it also give us an insight into how people posture and self generate a new set of identities – quite possibly? Does it give us winners and losers? That it most certainly does and yesterday’s programme showed that. After 18 months of work with Tommy Robinson, Mo Ansar was left in the cold as the cameras whirled and the media circus took over. Stages had been set, people coaxed into place and the glamour of stardom sprinkled for the press conference in a basement in central London.
Yesterday, two individuals sat on the sofas at the end of the documentary, one on his journey supposedly out of extremism and looking nervous and agitated. Whilst, we have seen nothing from Tommy which shows a mental shift away from the statements and comments he made bestializing Muslims, nonetheless, we have to welcome the fact that he has walked away from the English Defence League. We are well aware of the damage that ‘organisation’ has done on community relations and on the lives of innocent Muslims, those who were attacked whilst out shopping, or the young girl, for example, who was abused so much so that she developed a fear of leaving home.
What we also acknowledge is that Tommy will need to work towards a place where he feels somewhat secure. We cannot detract from the fact that he made decisions which led to him being in the position that he is in, yet, and we have said this many times, he has been through a turbulent period where his life has been threatened on numerous occassions. However, let us not forget how his sympathisers have also put us through such periods where we have had numerous threats made to our staff team whilst people shouted EDL down the end of the phone at us. If we could count the number of threats, libellous e-mails and abuse that we as a staff team have suffered, it would tip well over double digits since we started in March 2012. That being the case we know what constant abuse does to a person – it is corrosive and reduces trust and empathy in others.
So, we hope that Tommy turns a new leaf. We sincerely do and we hope that one day he can come and meet with us and support the work we do and feel that he can be a part of a world where he can stand up for the other. He has taken a step forward and we hope that it is one which enriches his life. The journey is going to be long and hard and there will be times when it is a case of ‘1 step forward and 2 steps back’. Let us hope that all those who took part in this process find that their lives and their futures are ones which give them hope and give us the ability to place our trust in them.