Presenter Piers Morgan demanded controversial activist Tommy Robinson “show some respect” and not show a Quran on television, labelling him an “Islamophobe” and repeatedly shouting “put it down” when Robinson displayed the book on camera.
The two met in a heated 20-minute clash on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme, the day after the Finsbury Park terror attack, in which a white man killed one Muslim and injured several more.
At one point, Mr. Robinson held up a copy of the Quran, calling it a “violent and cursed book” and quoting Liberal Prime Minister Sir. William Gladstone – “of whom we have statues across our capital city” – who once said: “So long as there is this book, there will be no peace in the world.”
Tommy Robinson holding the book on screen seemed to agitate Morgan, who repeatedly shouted over the Good Morning Britain guest to tell him to stop handling the Quran. He said: “put that book down a minute. Show some damn respect for people’s religious beliefs, right? Just put it down. Put it down!”
Mr. Morgan told him: “You’re sounding like a bigoted lunatic. You’re stirring up hatred.”
“What you’re doing now is deliberately inflammatory. You’re stirring up hatred. You are abusing people’s religion. You are abusing their faith.”
With his actions, Mr. Morgan was accused online of enforcing an informal “blasphemy code”. Mr. Robinson later tweeted: “I was called a ‘bigoted lunatic’ by [Piers Morgan] for repeating our greatest… PMs Gladstone and Churchill views on Islam. Let that sink in.”
Mr. Robinson has been widely criticised for his response to the Finsbury Park attack, as he failed to properly acknowledge how the mosque has worked to disavow its extremist past and has seemingly confused innocent Muslims with dangerous radicals.
Tommy Robinson confronts Piers Morgan on the bigotry against minorities cultivated by his own paper, the Daily Mail.pic.twitter.com/6HkivyCGB3
— Sacha Saeen (@Sacha_Saeen) June 20, 2017
After the attack, he said the Finsbury Park Mosque “has a long history of creating terrorists and radical jihadists and promoting hate and segregation”, and that as a Christian he felt “scared” after the incident.
He also tweeted: “Yesterday yet again proves me right. I’ve said don’t give any nut jobs a chance to retaliate, our government needs to control it. But they failed.”
During the interview, Mr. Morgan accused Mr. Robinson of “fermenting hatred and almost suggesting that somehow this attack, this revenge attack as you put it, was somehow [deserved] because of historical behaviour of certain people at a completely different mosque.”
Robinson hit back, saying: “The newspaper you work for said the same exact thing within an hour. Were they fermenting hate at the newspaper you work for?”
“I don’t run The Daily Mail,” Mr. Morgan replied.
“I write columns for The Daily Mail. I’m asking you just to simply explain why, within one hour of this terror attack, your first thought process was to go on the attack about another mosque and to point out to people that it was a terror hotbed… with the clear implication that somehow what happened that night was a deserved revenge attack.”
A spokesman for Good Morning Britain, responding to criticism of their decision to invite Mr. Robinson on the show, said in a statement:
“Tommy Robinson was interviewed on Good Morning Britain this morning to be robustly challenged on controversial comments he made yesterday following the Finsbury Park terror attack, which were widely reported in the news.”