This is the translation of the paper I wrote and which was published on the French site of Riposte Laïque on Monday, 16th February 2015 :
I was blessed with meeting Tommy Robinson in his home town, Luton, beginning of February, for a lunch, him and I.
This 32 years old man, who does not pretend to be a hero, and admits honestly having made mistakes in his youth, which he is not proud of, has shown an integrity and an amazing commitment against the islamisation of his town, which he witnessed since his childhood, and of his country. He explained this in his speech at Oxford Union end of November, where he was invited.
I first heard of him in the summer 2011, on French TV (I have a satellite dish, as I live in England) in a documentary about far right groups in Europe, which showed the English Defence League, an organisation of demonstrations against the islamisation of the country. Other European groups looked really racist, not his. He was presented as a violent thug, and what I remembered of the documentary, was telling myself: “He may be a thug, but how brave he is!”
I had almost forgotten about him when drummer Lee Rigby was beheaded in broad day light in the streets of London. This is when I made a profile on Twitter and followed Tommy.
I learned to know the man, to see how committed he was, despite being vilified by main stream media, and showed a total dedication in fighting to preserve the identity of his country. Whilst following him, my admiration would not stop growing. This is why I created a blog [the one you are reading] and wrote a paper about him, in December 2013. He noticed I had understood him correctly and gradually expressed his trust in me.
So that, to me, meeting him was meeting a man I deeply respect.
The man I knew from far is indeed the man I now know face to face. Not tall, he is full of energy, lively, joyful. And there is his way of looking at you: his eyes are frank, open, and seem scrutinising you: he met mine, full of genuine trust in him.
Tommy is currently on licence: he was jailed on 23 January 2014 for what I feel was a fallacious pretext (he lent money to his brother in law, who presented it as his to get a mortgage, fully reimbursed since). His freedom of speech is constrained: he must avoid to speak of some issues, in which case he could be sent back to prison.
It is then telling him I don’t want confidences from him that we have our lunch. He tells me of his hopes, of the support he is getting from people who put their trust in him, some of which he would not have expected, and of his disappointment from people he thought were his friends and who proved not to be. I saw him twitting that Lee Ribdy, the soldier beheaded in London, was a hero. I tell him that, to me, Lee Rigby was not a hero , only an innocent victim, but that he, Tommy, is a true hero: he has dared to speak openly and loudly against the islamisation of his country, against a state system that would favour Islam rather than the values of the country, and that he knows the risk of being assassinated for that. He is fully aware of it, and has accepted that such an issue could occur. He speaks to me of his family, wife, mum, and his joys with his children. I see a good hearted man, full of dignity, responsible.
Plans for the future, once he gets his full freedom back end of July? Of course, he has. Once you open your eyes, he says, you cannot close them down. Nothing sure yet so far.
Meanwhile, he is writing a book of his life.
I will never forget how we shook hands: with a total trust in our eyes. A moment which counts in one’s life.
Thank you, Tommy. You gave me your trust and your friendship. For nothing on earth would I want to be unworthy your trust.