British PM May, others flay Boris Johnson for ‘Islamophobic’ remarks
Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticised the burqa, a face veil worn by Muslim women, in a column.Updated: Aug 09, 2018 06:56 IST
Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson faced a welter of criticism for his remarks this week on face veils worn by Muslim women, with Prime Minister Theresa May and others demanding an apology though he stood his ground on Wednesday.
Seen as a way to burnish his credentials for a future leadership contest in a climate of right-wing headwinds in Europe, Johnson set forth his views on the recent burka ban in Denmark in his column in The Daily Telegraph.
Johnson, a former journalist who resigned as foreign secretary in July to protest against May’s “soft Brexit” policy, wrote that he felt "fully entitled" to expect women to remove face coverings when talking to him at his constituency office.
Schools and universities should be able to take the same approach if a student "turns up... looking like a bank robber... 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."
Sayeeda Warsi, Johnson’s colleague in the Conservative Party, and a member of the House of Lords, accused him of making “hate crime more likely” with an indefensible “dog-whistle” reference to fully veiled Muslim women.
Warsi responded in The Guardian, saying Johnson had used rightwing, “alt-right” language in criticising the appearance of the burqa, which contributes to a view that “Muslim women are fair game”.
She wrote, “As a feminist, what really disgusts me in this whole episode is that Muslim women are simply political fodder, their lives a convenient battleground on which to stake out a leadership bid.
“Well, this approach is not just offensive, it’s dangerous. Johnson’s words have once again validated the view of those that ‘other’ Muslims. They send out a message that Muslim women are fair game. What starts as useful targets for ‘colourful political language’ and the odd bit of toxic campaigning ends up in attacks on our streets.”
First Published: Aug 09, 2018 02:32 IST