THE leader of the English Defence League (EDL) has stepped down from his position and said a South Tyneside man was one of the reasons he quit.
Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll set up the far-right group in 2009 but announced their withdrawal yesterday, saying it is a “step forward, not a step back”.
In his announcement Robinson singled out Shaun Reah from South Shields - who flashed a tattoo of an exploding mosque at an EDL march in Birmingham in July.
Reah, 39, was arrested by Northumbria Police on behalf of their West Midlands colleagues on suspicion of inciting racial hatred and is due to answer bail in the coming weeks.
He remains on bail in the meantime.
Robinson said he said his decision to leave the group was to be true to what he stands for.
He said: “When some moron lifts up his top and he’s got the picture of a mosque saying “boom” and it’s all over the national newspapers it’s me.”
“It’s when I pick up my kids from school the parents are looking at me, judging me on that.
“And that’s not what I’ve stood for and my decision to do this is to be true to what I stand for.
“And whilst I want to lead a revolution against Islamist ideology, I don’t want to lead a revolution against Muslims.
“I believe that the revolution needs to come from within the Islamic community and they need to stand up. And I believe this is a step forward not a step back.”
Robinson and Carroll announced their departure from the EDL through counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, saying they had decided to leave because they can no longer keep extremist elements at bay.
In a statement issued through Quilliam, said: “I have been considering this move for a long time because I recognise that, though street demonstrations have brought us to this point, they are no longer productive.
“I acknowledge the dangers of far-right extremism and the ongoing need to counter Islamist ideology not with violence but with better, democratic ideas.”