If more proof were needed that the British establishment cares nothing for its own armed forces, look no further than the disgraceful treatment of young recruits who dared to have their photo taken with Tommy Robinson.
During a chance encounter at a motorway service station, several coachloads of 17 and 18-year old soldiers bumped into citizen journalist and free speech activist Tommy. Naturally, the kids in uniform wanted to get a selfie – they are teenagers after all. Just a few days later, all of the young servicemen are under investigation and have had their phones taken from them.
What makes this worse is that it appears the disciplinary actions they are now facing come at the behest not of the British Army directly, but rather, the Muslim Council of Britain’s demands that measures be taken.
A spokeswoman for the British army released a statement saying that the matter was under investigation, and that:
“Far-right ideology is completely at odds with the values and ethos of the armed forces. The armed forces have robust measures in place to ensure those exhibiting extremist views are neither tolerated nor permitted to serve.”
The Muslim Council of Britain – an organization that represents Mosques, Islamic schools, and charities – stated that Robinson “does not represent our armed forces, however much he tries to claim otherwise.”
The spokesman continued:
“He will rile against the very real steps taken to make the military more diverse … He will remain silent on the sacrifices Muslims and others made in the two world wars. We welcome the swift statement by the army in disassociating itself from the far-right and we hope that safeguards are put in place to ensure that Islamophobia will have no place in our armed forces.”
Upon hearing that the young boys were facing disciplinary action, Tommy took to his Facebook platform to express his disgust with their treatment. He talked of soldiers being sent into danger to defend the rights of others overseas while having their own rights trampled back home.
Later updates suggest that at least one of the young men has been removed from the army.
The British army has a core set of values that it instils in all recruits: courage, discipline, respect for others, integrity, loyalty, and selfless commitment. Nowhere does it state that you cannot have your picture taken with a minor celebrity.
While Tommy is seen as a divisive figure in U.K. politics, he has never been convicted of any crime related to hatred, racism, or Islamophobia. In fact, he has worked closely with the Quilliam Foundation, a think tank that seeks to tackle extremism of all kinds.
Having been recently released from prison after it was found by an appeals court that he had essentially been railroaded – arrested, tried, and imprisoned within the space of just a few hours – Tommy’s fate still hangs in the balance; he is due back in court on Oct 23. There are many in Britain and around the world that see the actions of the state against him as political persecution.
When you are public enemy number one, having a photo taken can – at least in Britain – become a punishable offense.