Last March, Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, stood at Speaker’s Corner and delivered a speech which had been written by Generation Identity leader Martin Sellner. This, we were told, was to assert Lennon’s right to speak freely, and to show the UK Border Agency that they could not stop this free speech merely by banning Sellner from the UK (he has since been banned from the country for good).
But Lennon and his pals, while trying to push The Great Man’s cause and protest his continuing incarceration for a contempt of court which he admitted, are not talking about Sellner today, which shows an interesting double standard among Lennon’s followers. Because Sellner and 16 of his pals have been arrested, and are now on trial in the Austrian city of Graz. The hearings are expected to last all month.
Martin Sellner - now in the dock
It has been reported that “Already, after today's detailed and meandering remarks by Martin Sellner, it will almost certainly cover all those dates”. The charge sheet is as might be expected: “The defendants are accused of incitement, membership and creation of a criminal organization, property damage and coercion”.
The neo-Nazi connection was also clear: “They were accompanied by Richard Pfingstl and Felix Budin, who became known through their activities for the neo-Nazi website alpen-donau.info … it remains clear that the Identitarians are interwoven with the Austrian neo-Nazi scene”. Also, “To what extent a conviction is likely as a possible outcome is difficult to assess. However, it is clear that the public prosecutor's office in Graz is far better prepared than many observers have assumed and intends to provide proof of the charges”.
This robust response to far-right activism has been echoed in France, where another ten so-called Identitarians have been arrested recently. Strangely, given the opportunities this gives Lennon and his pals to amplify their “free speech” narrative, they are not showing any support, or even recognition, of the Identitarians’ plight.
Had they taken any notice, they would have found Sellner’s defence had echoes of that used by real Nazis in the late 1940s. He claimed he was “only invited” to participate in far-right activity. There is no news on his defence for those “stickers with razor blades attached”, or of the Turk-baiting “Erdogan, give your Turks ham”.
And, as John O’Connell has pointed out, “'GI' is a Paramilitary Trained Neo-Fascist Group who have declared War on all Muslims in Europe”. This is the group who patrol the streets, offering the homeless “warm pork meals” in one of their many efforts to get the majority on side, while cynically engaging in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
Those seventeen defendants in that Graz courtroom are Stephen Yaxley Lennon’s friends. The kinds of people he would fly out to Vienna to comfort after their expulsion from the UK. They contain many alleged neo-Nazis. They are accused of paramilitary activity. But Lennon claims he is not a racist. Perhaps that is why he and his pals are keeping quiet.
Law enforcement authorities across Europe are beginning to call time on the far-right and their activities. Because it isn’t about their free speech. I’ll just leave that one there.