Boris Johnson has sparked anger by claiming that women wearing burkas look like letter boxes and bank robbers. His comments have been furiously condemned by Muslim leaders and Labour, with MP David Lammy branding him a ‘pound-shop Donald Trump’.
By – Harley Tamplin
The former foreign secretary made the inflammatory comments in his Daily Telegraph column.
However, he insisted that the burka and other face-covering veils should not be banned in public. Last week, Denmark followed France, Germany, Austria and Belgium in banning the burka and niqab.
Mr Johnson said that schools and universities should expect students to remove face coverings if they turn up ‘looking like a bank robber’.
He wrote: ‘If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you,” he wrote. ‘If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree – and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran.
‘I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.’ But he said a total ban would boost radicals who claim there is a ‘clash of civilisations’ between Islam and the West, he said.
Mr Johnson was criticised heavily for the comments, with Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council Of Britain, saying he was ‘pandering to the far right’.
Labour’s Jess Phillips said she would report Mr Johnson to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Mr Lammy added: ‘Muslim women are having their burkas pulled off by thugs in our streets and Boris Johnson’s response is to mock them for ‘looking like letter boxes. ‘Our pound-shop Donald Trump is fanning the flames of Islamophobia to propel his grubby electoral ambitions.
Fellow Labour MP Stella Creasy said voters in a potential Conservative leadership contest should note similarities between Mr Johnson and American right-winger Steve Bannon.
Read more: From 2018/08/06