Boris Johnson claims women in burkas look like 'letter boxes'

Lester Mason
August 9, 2018

Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson came under fire today (6) after he described the burqa as "oppressive" and compared Muslim women who wear the clothing to "letter boxes".

BORIS JOHNSON is facing accusations of Islamophobia after he said Muslim women wearing face-covering veils "look like letter boxes".

Britain's ex-top diplomat has enraged MPs and political commentators on social media, with some accusing him of "fanning the flames of Islamophobia" and others insisting a gaffe is not a gaffe if it's repeated continually, considering Johnson's chequered history on issues of race.

The Muslim Council of Britain said Johnson's comments were particularly "crass" at a time when Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred was becoming "worryingly pervasive".

Labor's Jess Phillips said she would report Johnson to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

But he stopped short of calling for a ban on face coverings in public, as introduced in some European countries.

His intervention comes days after after a 28 year-old woman became the first person in Denmark to be fined under new laws banning full-face Islamic veils.

Downing Street confirmed that the Government does not support a ban in the UK.

The MP 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".

He added it was "weird" and "bullying" to "expect women to cover their faces".


And employers should be able to "enforce" dress codes.

However, he went on to say: "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".

'You risk turning people into martyrs, and you risk a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation, and you may simply make the problem worse'.

"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 freakish and unattractive adornment, you simply stiffen resistance", wrote Mr Johnson.

But he said that he does not agree with Denmark's recent decision to impose a total ban on burkas and niqabs. "A total ban is not the answer".

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. "Deeply disappointing that (the) Telegraph platforms this disgusting language", Mr Versi commented on Twitter.

David Lammy also strongly criticised Johnson's comments and called him a "pound-shop Donald Trump" - a sentiment echoed by some other users.

His remarks have sparked fury - with Labour MP David Lammy branding the ex cabinet minister a "pound-shop Donald Trump" and warning he is fanning the flames of Islamophobia.

The Labour MP Stella Creasey warned that Johnson was in danger of "going full Morrissey", in reference to the singer who has been mired in controversy over comments on immigration.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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