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Boris Johnson told to apologise over 'totally out of order' burka comments

08 August, 2018, 05:11 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • FAYEZ NURELDINE via Getty Images            
                    Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has criticised Boris Johnson for being'offensive

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has been told to apologise by the Conservative party chairman, Brandon Lewis, for comments he made about Muslim women wearing the burka.

His column drew criticism from Muslim groups and fellow politicians.

Boris Johnson has been told to apologise for comments about burqa-wearing women (Victoria Jones/PA Wire).

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Lord Sheikh, of the Conservative Muslim Forum, suggested Mr Johnson was "using Muslims as a springboard" for his ambition to lead the Tory Party.

In a message on Twitter, Mr Lewis said: "I agree with Alistair Burt".

Johnson's comments were widely criticised by the Muslim community and MPs.

The Muslim Council of Britain said Mr Johnson's "intentional usage of the words" appeared to be an attempt to "pander to the far right".

He said Tory opponents of Mr Johnson are: "trying to neutralise him because he is quite clearly emerging as one of the strongest leadership contenders".

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And Ms Dorries said the former foreign secretary "did not go far enough".

Mr Johnson, who quit the Government last month in a dispute over Brexit, made the remarks in a Daily Telegraph article published on Monday.

In the article, which was arguing against the United Kingdom following Denmark and introducing a ban on face coverings, Mr Johnson also described burkas as "oppressive and ridiculous". He resigned as foreign secretary in July, accusing Ms May of killing "the Brexit dream" with her plan to seek close economic ties with the European Union after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc.

The resignation solidified Johnson's position as a leader of the pro-Brexit wing of the Conservative Party, which is deeply divided over its attitude to the EU.

He said he felt "fully entitled" to expect women to remove face coverings when talking to him at his MP surgery - and schools and universities should be able to take the same approach if a student "turns up. looking like a bank robber". Some suspected Johnson's burqa comments were meant to boost his appeal among right-wing members of the party. "However, the language he used to describe those who choose to wear burqas was unacceptable".

He said: "Boris isn't stupid, this wasn't an off-the-cuff comment after a glass of wine, this was an article that he sat down and wrote for The Daily Telegraph". Boris knew the effect and the impact that this kind of dog whistle politics would have - he's familiar with it from his involvement in the Leave campaign during the Brexit debate.

"What's important is do we believe people should have the right to practise their religion and, in the case of women and the burqa and niqab, to choose how they dress".

Johnson wrote the comments after the first person had been fined for wearing a full-face veil in public in Denmark.

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