We know that Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, talks a lot about Islam. His outpourings suggest great knowledge of The Prophet; he has co-authored a book which claims to analyse the Qur’an. So it might be thought that he would have no problem debating the subject with an Islamic scholar - a one-on-one discussion on a subject which, for many of his followers, he has significant expertise.
Stephen Yaxley Lennon aka Tommy Robinson
But recent events suggest that this thought may have been sadly misplaced: Lennon has had several opportunities to discuss Islam with scholars of the religion, yet for some reason, none of these have been taken up by The Great Man. Why that might be is not known, but what it known is that when someone with an in-depth knowledge of the Qur’an shows up, Lennon is nowhere to be seen - so far.
Here on Zelo Street, many of these invitations have been discovered, and just three selected to demonstrate that even someone who is prepared to make a 300 mile round trip to violate someone’s privacy (twice) may be of less than perfect courage.
Ali Dawah challenged Lennon after being mistakenly identified as someone “caught on camera telling people to go to Syria for jihad”. Lennon got that wrong. Dawah mused “hopefully one day I will come across you for a nice discussion and expose you on camera once and for all”. He is yet to see his suggestion taken up.
The people at Smile 2 Jannah have also come away empty handed from their efforts to get Lennon to debate with them. When it was suggested to them “he has continuously backed down from having a debate … Obviously we know the reason of why he does back down, because he knows if he sits for a debate his lies will be exposed”, their reply was simply “He has been challenged by us, but he is avoiding us … He feels threatened by people of knowledge”. And then there was the challenge of Nabeel Azeez.
The founder of Becoming the Alpha Muslim has set out in some detail how he tried to set up a debate with Lennon, then reschedule it after the first attempt fell through. His conclusions chime with other unsuccessful attempts to secure a debate.
Here’s what he had to say: “Tommy Robinson has violated a gentleman’s agreement and backed out of our debate at the last minute … The debate was to take place online on May 3rd, moderated by Thor Holt of the Write with Courage! podcast, and uploaded on to the Union Magazine Youtube channel for public viewing … This is the second time Tommy has been a no-show. The debate was initially scheduled for April 3rd but according to his executive assistant, Hel Gower, they didn’t even schedule it”.
Azeez has detailed evidence showing that Lennon was apparently up for a debate, to be later uploaded to YouTube and made into a podcast. Twice he was ready to debate, and twice he didn’t show. But he was more than happy to roam the country with camera crew in tow to set up confrontations on his own terms.
Perhaps Stephen Yaxley Lennon could tell us why these debates never happen. After all, he wouldn’t be frightened of coming off second best, with his knowledge. Or would he?