A former far-right extremist says leaving was like "escaping a cult"

Caolan Robertson knew he was gay from a young age, growing up in Ireland and northern England. However, it was when he moved to London that he began to experience another level of homophobia, according to the New York Times. A portion of this bigotry stemmed from Muslim communities in the city's East End, sparking Robertson's resentment toward Islam, and leading him down the dark road to the far-right.

After the Pulse night club massacre in Orlando, FL, Robertson began watching YouTube videos to learn more. While his research began with mainstream news and videos, he soon found himself being led along by YouTube's algorithm to more extremist content. A year after the shooting, in 2017, Robertson was working for Tommy Robinson, co-founder of the English Defence League, a far-right, anti-Islam extremist group.

Things changed in March of 2019 after two mass shootings that took place at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Robertson realized that the ideas he was promulgating were only fueling the violence that originally radicalized him three years previous.

These days, Robertson works for BylineTV and has co-founded FutureFreedom, fighting extremist disinformation and helping those who have been radicalized by extremist movements get out.

Robertson said he is happy to work with "genuine progressives who believe that people who have renounced their extremist views should be redeemed".

He continued: "They believe in rehabilitation and they also believe in creating a better world and to stop the far-right, we have to be able to allow people to leave it and to dismantle it.

"I make millions of views a month now exposing the far-right, exposing disinformation, and I feel like I'm actively dismantling the stuff I used to do before but also helping to put my skills towards genuine content that's progressive, that's not going to result in real-world violence."

via Pink News