Johnson refuses to apologise over 'offensive' burqa comments

Lamar Ellis
August 8, 2018

Several European countries, including France, Belgium and Denmark, have banned face-covering veils in public, but none of Britain's main political parties supported such a restriction.

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis said he had asked Johnson to apologize, though didn't say if there would be any sanctions if the request was ignored.

Brandon Lewis said he agreed with Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt that there was a "degree of offence" in Mr Johnson's comments.

"Boris, he is Turkish!" exclaimed a group of Muslims with fraternal glee when I chatted to them on holiday ten days ago.

"Theresa May must condemn Boris Johnson's comments unequivocally and order an inquiry into Islamophobia in her party".

The Board of Deputies tweeted: "Solidarity with the Muslim community over rising anti-Muslim incidents".

Mr Mughal criticised the "sheer flippancy in which it was made".

"I believe women should be able to choose how they dress", Ms May said.

Meanwhile, Johnson's father, Stanley, told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "I think people are whipping up a little mountain out of a molehill on this one, I really do".

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The ex-foreign secretary was accused of Islamophobia after writing in his newspaper column that Muslim women wearing them "look like letter boxes". "It's now 24 hours that have gone by, the message that members of the Muslim community get is their concerns are not taken into account", he said.

Sayeeda Warsi, a former co-chair of the party and author of a book on Islamophobia, told Channel 4 News he was as using Muslim women as "a convenient political football to increase poll ratings amongst the Tory faithful".

The resignation solidified Mr Johnson's position as a leader of the pro-Brexit wing of the Conservative Party, which is deeply divided over its attitude to the EU.

He said it was "absolutely ridiculous" that wearers should "go around looking like letter boxes", and he would expect his constituents to remove them in his MP's surgery.

Last month, Tell Mama reported a 30 per cent surge in "offline", or in-person, attacks and incidence of abuse against Muslims, with women disproportionately targeted.

He said a total ban on face-covering veils would give a boost to radicals who said there was a "clash of civilisations" between Islam and the West and could lead to "a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation".

"The party chairman, the prime minister has the right to take the whip... that's the thing I'd like to see".

Johnson appeared not to have acknowledged the scale of anger caused by his language.

A fine of around £120 has already been imposed on a woman wearing a niqab in a shopping centre in the town of Horsholm, after another woman reportedly tried to tear it off.

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