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Boris Johnson under fire for describing burqa as "oppressive"

Britain's former foreign secretary Boris Johnson came under fire today after he described the burqa as "oppressive" and compared Muslim women who wear the clothing to "letter boxes".


PTI Last Updated at 06 Aug 2018, 20:08 IST
Boris Johnson under fire for describing burqa as "oppressive"

Britain's former foreign secretary Boris Johnson came under fire today after he described the burqa as "oppressive" and compared Muslim women who wear the clothing to "letter boxes".

In his regular column in 'The Daily Telegraph' on Sunday, the Conservative Party MP had laid out his views against a complete ban on the Islamic clothing in line with the recent burqa ban in Denmark.

"If you tell me that the burka (burqa) is oppressive, then I am with you… I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes," he wrote.

He said businesses and government agencies in the UK should be able to "enforce a dress code" that allowed them to see people's faces.

"If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then…those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct," he wrote.

But added: "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."

The former Cabinet minister, who had resigned as foreign minister last month amid a clash over the UK's Brexit strategy, said a total ban on face-covering veils would give a boost to radicals and could lead to "a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation".

However, his remarks prompted calls for an apology, with the Muslim Council of Britain accusing him of "pandering to the far right" and Opposition Labour party MPs accusing him of stoking Islamophobia.

Labour MP David Lammy said: "Muslim women are having their burqas 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."

Labour's shadow equalities minister, Naz Shah, added: "Boris Johnson's latest racist insults cannot be laughed off like they often are. Theresa May must condemn this blatant Islamophobia and Boris Johnson must apologize."

Another Labour MP, Jess Phillips, said she would report Johnson to the country's Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Denmark last week followed France, Austria, and Belgium in imposing face-covering burqa and niqab bans in public places and a fine of about EURO 120 has already been imposed on a woman wearing a full-face veil in a shopping center in the town of Hørsholm.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesperson said: "The long-standing government position on this is clear, that we do not support a ban on the wearing of the veil in public. Such a prescriptive approach would be not in keeping with British values of religious tolerance and gender equality."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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