Johnson’s burka remarks ‘will encourage bigotry’


Boris Johnson’s burka comments will “cause problems with race relations” and “encourage bigotry”, a Tory peer has told Sky News.

Lord Sheikh, the founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, said of the former foreign secretary’s remarks: “I think to a certain extent they’re racist. In a way it is racist. These words are very inflammatory.

“I believe they will cause problems with race relations and I believe it will encourage bigotry in this country.”

Mr Johnson is facing mounting calls – including from Theresa May – to apologise for comparing women wearing face-covering veils to bank robbers and letter boxes.

But he is so far facing down those demands, with a source close to the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP telling Sky News it was “ridiculous” his views were being “attacked”.

Lord Sheikh revealed he has written to Tory party chair Brandon Lewis to call for “severe action” to be taken against Mr Johnson, including potentially taking the whip away from him.

The peer also said it was his view that there was an “element” of Islamphobia” within the party.

Former cabinet minister and Tory party chair Lord Pickles told Sky News the “sensible thing” for Mr Johnson to do would be to apologise for his “language”.

He said: “You can’t defend liberal ideas by using illiberal language.

“He’s perfectly entitled to debate the burka, he’s perfectly entitled to say whether he’s in favour of it or against it.

“It’s the use of language that I think is the problem.”

Lord Pickles described the remarks as a “mistake” and a “genuine attempt to open up debate”.

When asked if he thought his former cabinet colleague was racist, he said: “No, of course I don’t think he’s racist. And I say that as someone who has worked closely with him over a number of years.”

Mr Lewis revealed on Tuesday that he had asked Mr Johnson to apologise, with Mrs May joining him later that day.

The PM said the remarks – contained in Mr Johnson’s weekly Daily Telegraph column – had “clearly caused offence”.

In the piece, Mr Johnson argued against following Denmark’s lead in banning the burka.

Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Great Yarmouth Brandon Lewis arrives at Downing Street in London.
Image: Brandon Lewis is one of those who has called for Mr Johnson to apologise

But he made several comparisons between the covering worn by some women, saying it made them look like a “bank robber” or a “letter box”.

Mr Johnson also revealed he would “feel entitled” to ask a woman wearing the burka to remove it if she came to his constituency office.

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He concluded: “In Britain today there is only a tiny, tiny minority of women who wear these odd bits of headgear.

“One day, I am sure, they will go.”

From – SkyNews


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