Boris Johnson Compares Burqa To 'Bank Robbers' And 'Letter Boxes'

Johnson Reuters

A Muslim imam hailed as a hero for his actions during a terror attack on a London mosque has accused the Government of being "in denial" over Islamophobia.

"He wrote: 'If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you", he wrote.

Johnson, who quit his ministerial position in July, due to his dissatisfaction at what he sees as PM Theresa May's "soft brexit" approach, made his comments in his latest Telegraph column which focused on Denmark's recent decision to impose a full-face veil ban for those of the Islamic faith.

However, his remarks prompted calls for an apology, with the Muslim Council of Britain accusing him of "pandering to the far right" and Labour party MPs accusing him of stoking Islamophobia.

"Boris Johnson's latest racist insults can not be laughed off, like they often are", said Naz Shah, the Labour Party's shadow equalities minister.

talkRADIO has contacted Johnson and the Conservative Party for comment.

The MCB wrote to Lewis, the Conservative Party Chair, in May to highlight incidents of alleged Islamophobia in the party and to call for an inquiry.

Writing in the Evening Standard on Monday, Mohammed Mahmoud said that the response by the government has been minimal, with a meaningful engagement from its leadership still lacking.

However, in comments which are sure to cause controversy, the Uxbridge MP admitted he thinks the burka is "oppressive" and there are times when he thinks it may be appropriate for them to be removed.


Johnson added: "If a constituent came to my MP's surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled - like Jack Straw - to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly".

"I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes".

But he added: "Such restrictions are not quite the same as telling a free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business".

But he warned a total ban on face-covering veils would boost radicals who claim there is a "clash of civilisations" between Islam and the West, "fanning the flames of grievance".

"Like a parent confronted by a rebellious teenager determined to wear a spike through her tongue, or a bolt through her nose, you run the risk that, by your heavy-handed attempt to ban what you see as a freaky and unattractive adornment, you simply stiffen resistance", wrote Mr Johnson.

Boris Johnson has come under heavy criticism for suggesting that women wearing face veils - also known as niqabs or burkas - resembled "letter boxes" and "bank robbers".

It recently emerged that Johnson - a potential frontrunner to be the next prime minister - is in "direct communication" with Steve Bannon, the US President's former chief strategist and former head of far-right nationalist website Breitbart.

And Labour MP David Lammy said Johnson was a "pound-shop Donald Trump" who was "fanning the flames of Islamophobia to propel his grubby electoral ambitions".

United Kingdom prime minister Theresa May's official spokesperson said: "The long-standing government position on this is clear, that we do not support a ban on the wearing of the veil in public".

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