Arizona GOP Silent After Congressman Gosar Rallies With Anti-Muslim Activists

The Arizona Republican Party has remained silent after a GOP congressman from Arizona rallied with members of the European far-right.

Last weekend, Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar gave a speech at a London rally for Tommy Robinson, an anti-Muslim activist and founder of the far-right, extremist English Defence League.

Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) is currently serving a 13-month sentence for contempt of court. 

At the same time that President Donald Trump was in the U.K., Gosar showed up at the "Free Tommy Robinson" rally in London on Saturday, July 14. In his address, Gosar vilified Muslims, portraying Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants as rapists and child abusers.

So far, the Arizona Republican Party has said nothing.

In an email to Phoenix New Times on Friday, state party spokesperson Ayshia Connors wrote, "We aren’t commenting on this matter."

Connors would not address whether the state party stands behind Gosar in spite of his vocal support for the British far-right. The congressman from Prescott has a long track record of inflammatory remarks.

Meanwhile, civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers have taken Gosar to task for his support of the European far-right fringe.

“It is inexplicable for a sitting U.S. congressman to speak at, let alone attend a rally for someone responsible for spreading as much hate and bigotry as Tommy Robinson,” Imraan Siddiqi, the Arizona executive director of the Council on America-Islamic Relations, said in a statement.

“We condemn the congressman’s choice to stand with far-right Islamophobic conspiracy-theorists, and call on elected officials from both parties to speak out on this matter," he added.

Democratic lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature like Athena Salman and Martín Quezada also condemned the four-term congressman. So did the Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.
In his alarming address at the rally for Robinson, Gosar described a "scourge" of Muslim men who carry out sexual abuse. "We know these men come from commonly Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Muslim backgrounds," Gosar said.

He has called for the U.S. government to intervene in the jailed activist's case.

Although Robinson later denounced the street movement he founded for attracting too many neo-Nazis, he remains a notorious far-right leader. He advocates for banning Muslims and refugees from the U.K. and a halt to mosque construction.

He has also been convicted for numerous offenses, including assaulting an off-duty officer in 2005.

Gosar represents Arizona's Fourth Congressional District, which is decidedly not a part of the U.K. Despite a history of controversial statements – last year, Gosar said that the Charlottesville rally was part of a conspiracy backed by George Soros, whom he called a Nazi collaborator – he has no Republican challenger in next month's primary election.

Democrats David Brill and Delina DiSanto are running against Gosar in a deep-red district that includes the outer reaches of Phoenix and northwest Arizona cities like Prescott, Kingman, and Lake Havasu City.

They both condemned Gosar's remarks.

In a statement, DiSanto called Gosar a "disgrace," citing his views on immigration and his Charlottesville conspiracy theory.

"I am running against him because I cannot sit back and watch his atrocious views and listen to his hateful rhetoric causing racism and divide in our district, our state, and our country," DiSanto said.

Brill said that he feels appalled by Gosar rallying for Robinson at "a protest fueled by hatred."

"If Rep. Gosar, who is notably absent from the District, craves the international limelight so much, it is up to the voters to give him his wish and vote him out of office so he can pursue his real dreams," Brill said in a statement.

Bill and DiSanto, however, are long-shot candidates. Gosar was re-elected with 70 percent of the vote in 2016.

On Thursday, Gosar dialed in to radio station KFYI AM-550 along with Republican Senate candidate Kelli Ward, whom Gosar endorsed on Monday. They chatted with host Mike Broomhead, but neither host nor guests brought up Gosar's speech at the far-right rally.

Gosar's office did not respond to repeated requests from comment from Phoenix New Times regarding the nature of the trip to the U.K., instead giving a statement to the Associated Press.

"The truth is neither 'islamophobic' nor racist. It's simply truth. CAIR has not disputed the facts. CAIR is condemning me for guilt by association," Gosar told the AP.

He added, "Congress long ago determined CAIR was not a legitimate organization that should be deemed a credible source."