Burqas: Boris Johnson reported to police for 'hate crime'

Burqas: Boris Johnson reported to police for 'hate crime' August 7, 2018

ITV journalist Daniel Hewitt reported in a tweet today that former Tory Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been reported to police over his remarks comparing burqa wearers to ‘letter boxes’ and  ‘bank robbers’ because such language would provoke the ‘spread of hate crime’.
Running with the tweet, The Mirror reported that a member of the public, identified as Sharmin Akther, said the former Foreign Secretary’s comments would cause abuse of Muslim women to increase.
This latest twist in the burqa row comes after Prime Minister Theresa May suggested Johnson should apologise for his comments.
She did not say the comments were Islamophobic, but urged people to be “very careful” with the language they use.

I do think that we all have to be very careful about the language and terms we use. And some of the terms Boris used describing people’s appearance obviously have offended.

She said she agreed with Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis, who earlier called on Johnson to apologise.
What’s important is do we believe people should have the right to practise their religion and, in the case of women and the burka and niqab, to choose how they dress. I believe women should be able to choose how they dress.
A source close to Johnson, described as “our Pound Shop Donald Trump” by Labour MP David Lammy,  made clear earlier he was not retracting his comments.

It is ridiculous that these views are being attacked – we must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on difficult issues.

Lammy went on to accuse the Brexit clown who fancies himself as a future UK Prime Minister, of:

Fanning the flames of Islamophobia to propel his grubby electoral ambitions.

The Muslim Council of Britain weighed in with this statement:

Boris Johnson rightly opposes the Danish ban on the niqab but denigrates the minority of women who choose to wear it … His comments are particularly regrettable in this current climate, where Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred is becoming worryingly pervasive with disappointingly little action from this current government.
Muslim women bear the brunt of hate on the streets. Just this week, two people were jailed for torturing a Muslim convert and a bookshop was attacked by Islamophobes.
Mr Johnson’s comments come at a time when he reportedly met Donald Trump’s former right-hand man Steve Bannon.
We need responsibility and action from our politicians, not pandering to the far-right. Mr Johnson’s comments also underscores the Muslim Council of Britain’s call for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. Such crass commentary should have no place in our political discourse.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph on Monday, Johnson said said the burqa was “oppressive and ridiculous” but he did not want Britain to follow European countries like Denmark which have banned the burka and niqab in public places.

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  • Terry

    Personally I applaud the Danish for their pushback against their law against face obscuring headwear. And I denounce those who cave in to the bitching shreiking howling wailing from muslims who are determined to take every opportunity to be offended.
    The burqa is a sign of oppression and a thinly veiled islamic threat to freedom and democracy.

  • L.Long

    The only thing that isLame woman are abused by is being forced to wear the black tent!!

  • Robert McLean

    It does seem that “islamophobia”is fast becoming a ‘thing’. Even the spellchecker picks up on it!

  • Steve

    I’m fairly certain that “provoking the ‘spread of hate crime” isn’t itself a crime, let alone a “hate crime” – a concept very poorly defined in UK law.

  • 1859

    Facial recognition in public is a fundamental duty of any citizen in an open, free and fair society. Covering the face and body has fuck all to do with religion, religion is just used as an excuse. It is men and only men who insist on their sexual property being hidden from the view of other men. And to pretend otherwise is malicious deception.

  • Great Satan

    The Danes and others are right to ban the burqah – Britain should do likewise forthwith – no apologies – we should send out a signal we do not want an islamised society.

  • Brummie

    Unlike skin colour, gender, age, race and disability, clothing is a CHOICE and open to criticism, praise or possibly ridicule.

  • AgentCormac

    I honestly don’t know what to make of this one. Like May, I believe that every woman should be able to choose how they dress, and most muslim women have no say whatsoever. But this is Johnson following orders from Steve Bannon – a man on a mission to galvanise right-wing populism by stirring up tensions throughout Europe, including tensions around immigration. So while I agree that the burqa is, more often than not, a display of female subservience, I am deeply suspicious of Johnson and his motives for airing the issue.

  • andym

    I agree that it’s just a bid to win the right of the party back off Rees-Mogg, and I’m not sure it’s backfired like some are saying.
    It’s noticeable that a number on the left are questioning his credentials as a white ,European male to comment on what Muslim women wear. Trouble is, that is always wheeled out now to stifle criticism of oppressive practices of non-European cultures. But the hatred Maajid Nawaaz and Miriam Namazie et al generate in the left show that they think no one has the credentials to say things Islamist practitioners dislike.
    If I thought it would help unwilling burqua/niqab wearers I’d think about supporting a ban. I don’t think it will. And I certainly don’t want to give any ammo to some of the specimens on the right who have an agenda of their own on this issue in which Muslim women’s rights do not feature.

  • Angela_K

    A good thing that has come from Boris’s remarks is that more people are discussing this oppressive garment and the symbolism it represents. Unfortunately many Muslims and the useful idiots of the very far left are screaming their usual fake charge of “Islamophobia”and racism. My own view is that walking around so you cannot be recognised facially is divisive and should be banned.

  • barriejohn

    I agree with AgentCormac & andym on this one. I have made many remarks on different fora that have upset the religious, and stand by them all, and have also been pretty scathing about the wearing of the burka and other oppressive practices, but I don’t support Boris Johnson here. Theresa May is, due to the way that the Brexit negotiations have been progressing (or not!), almost a lame duck premier now, and Johnson and his supporters definitely see him as the “king in waiting”. He’s a very skilful poilitical operator, and knows that these remarks show him in a positive light to a certain section of the Tory party, and put Theresa May in a very difficult spot. Just look at all those brain-dead supporters of the EDL. Their spokesmen are almost always male, and women’s rights would, in my opinion, be well down their list of priorities. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of THEM thought that the place of women was in the home looking after the children. They are purely anti-Muslim, and their antipathy towards that religion is more racial than anything else. Comments like these will appeal to their sort. May has ordered Johnson to apologise and he has refused. What now? A Muslim Tory peer has said that the whip should be removed from Johnson. Exactly the reaction that he wanted, I would suggest. Johnson sees this furore as another step on his journey to leadership of the party, which is what he had in his sights when he ran for London Mayor. I’m not sticking up for him, as I think he has no principles and no loyalty whatsoever, and his one overriding ambition is what’s good for Boris!

  • Brian Jordan

    To see and hear the comments about this in the meeja, you’d think Johnson had written an article proposing to ban the burqua – or at very least slipped his descriptions in out of context. Maybe they haven’t read the original article, which is still available* on the Torygraph site. It’s entitled “Denmark has got it wrong. Yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous – but that’s still no reason to ban it ”
    Can one say fairer than that?
    *paywall, with small free allocation on registering.

  • andym

    @ BJ I think Johnson knew exactly what he was doing.

  • L.Long

    The argument against outlawing the black tent is that it forces isLame women to not leave the house. The only thing stopping the women from leaving the house is her inability to kick the male in the balls and leave! If I treated my wife like isLame males treat theirs, she would lay a cast iron fry pan against my head!!! So tell the lying imam to stick his head up his ass, and tell your males owner that he will have to sleep sometime, and grin wickedly, or bow down and put up with it and stop complaining.

  • AgentCormac

    It is indeed exactly the reaction that Johnson wanted. It follows precisely the same tactics used by Trump and his entourage, who, under Bannon’s guidance, have played the victim card time and again. Trump is the innocent target of a ‘witch hunt’ over the Russia investigation; the media is utterly biased against him; ‘no politician in history – and I say this with great surety – has been treated worse or more unfairly’, (including, presumably,Nelson Mandela). I could go on.
    So the more Johnson is vilified for expressing the views he has, the more he appeals to those who, as you correctly note, are anti-muslim for entirely racist reasons.

  • P.A.Bevington

    No one mentions JC and the witchunt against him for antisemitism. If he gets pilloried then so should Boris. But some very good and pertitant comments in all of the above.

  • Broga

    Not too long ago a female MP was murdered when doing a surgery. I support the Brexit buffoon. Take him to court and he will become a hero. Just let it be and he will fail in his quest for the support of the Moggy, Farage gang.

  • AgentCormac

    I assume you’re referring to the murder of Jo Cox by Thomas Mair, a right-wing extremist who yelled ‘Put Britain first’ as he stabbed and shot her?

  • AgentCormac

    Sorry, totally OT, but has anyone else started experiencing a problem here whereby the name and email fields suddenly empty every time you post a comment?

  • Angela_K

    ‘AgentCormac. Yes, not just me then.

  • Broga

    AgentCormac: Me too! Just happened for the fourth time.

  • Brian Jordan

    Bannon to blame? Has Spiked‘s Brendan O’Neill fallen under Bannons spell too, then? His article on the matter in The Spectator doesn’t sound like it to me and he agrees with Johnson.
    (Another paywall, I’m afraid.)
    Not mentioned, in most media comment, is that the hysteria conveniently outshines Labour’s antisemitism problem. Maybe Boris is not Bannon’s stool-pigeon but Corbyn’s!

  • John the Drunkard

    The burqa a ‘choice,’ for whom? The families and Imams who threaten violence against women who won’t submit to being erased?
    There are probably at least a few women who actually DO choose to make themselves invisible. But there’s no way of making that ‘choice’ clear.
    In the U.S. part of the campaign that quashed the first KKK back in the 1870s was the passing of laws against public masking and disguise. The burqa/niqab etc. OUGHT to be seen as a cognate to the white hood.

  • barriejohn

    Brian Jordan: I’m pretty sure that Brendan O’Neill’s name has been brought up on this site before, and for all I know he may well have been influenced by Steve Bannon, as he holds such strange views! The issue here is the language that Johnson used, and he must, surely, have foreseen the reaction to phraseology such as “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”. If not, why has he refused to apologise? He doesn’t have to apologise for making known his views on the actual wearing of the burka. There seems to be some confusion here.

  • StephenJP

    Boris is not thick. If he had wanted to, he could have made a perfectly coherent argument about how the burka appears to symbolise a rejection of societal integration, and why this has the potential to undermine the liberal principles on which our society is based (yes, really). Instead, he chooses to illustrate his point with a couple of lazy, dog-whistle comments that are designed to appeal to the knuckle-draggers that he thinks will propel him into the leadership. I trust that his judgement is as askew on this issue as it has been throughout most of his career.
    And yes, why do we have to fill in the ID fields afresh every time we want to post?

  • AgentCormac

    @Brian Jordan
    Apologies, but I’m not quite sure what your point is. Brendan O’Neill certainly defends Johnson’s stance in the article you linked to, but I still think that the remarks Johnson made we’re designed to have the effect articulated by StephenJP – namely, ‘appeal to the knuckle-draggers that he thinks will propel him into the leadership’.
    Had this been a prominent Labour MP making similar remarks about orthodox jews wearing kippahs, I have little doubt that Corbyn would have felt compelled to act. May, however, has yet again failed to move decisively. But then, that has become the hallmark of her so-called leadership.

  • barriejohn

    StephenJP: There’s another point here that is being overlooked. Was Johnson opposed to the burka ban (“a total ban is not the answer”) because he fully supports the concept of religious freedom and its expression? No; he was opposed to the ban because of possible repercussions. Much of what he said does make sense, but his remarks do not seem to have been driven by libertarian ideals!

  • Stephen Mynett

    It would be worthwhile someone asking a few questions from a different perspective, that of privilege, which in some cases burka wearers have over others. It is not just wrong that they can flout security checks at airports etc but are able to freely shop anywhere while a motorcyclist is forced to remove her/his helmet at a fuel station.
    A relative used to be a blood-bike volunteer, taking a rare blood types to different hospitals in emergency situations and in the unlikely event of a fuel stop being needed it should be as quick as possible. A burka wearer would not have to remover her/his veil (there have been cases of it being used for camouflage) , so why should a motorcyclist not be treated the same.
    Whatever is done with the burka there will be squeals of Islamophobia but making it a logical human rights for all issue is the logical way to go.

  • Angela_K

    Stephen Mynett. The only time I was bellowed at through a petrol station Tannoy to remove my motorcycle helmet, was by a man who looked very Muslim.

  • StephenJP

    barriejohn: that’s another good point. Boris doesn’t seem to be inspired by any serious political principles at all. His tenure as Foreign Secretary showed that he doesn’t care enough about any issue to bother to understand it properly or to consider its ethical or even political implications. His offhand approach to the truly scandalous plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a case in point.

  • AgentCormac

    Totally agree – the man is all bluster, posturing and no substance whatsoever. The way he mishandled the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair was indeed scandalous, as was his decision to make an utterly pointless trip to Afghanistan (at the tax payers’ expense) just to avoid having to vote in the Heathrow runway debate. All Johnson cares about is himself and his over-inflated ego.

  • andym

    He has been seen,before a public appearance , standing in front of a mirror, deliberately roughing up his hair. Sums up his sincerity. Fits the criteria for a white-collar psychopath.

  • Bubblecar

    As much as I can’t stand Boris Johnson, I think he’s being unfairly roasted over this burqa business.
    The burqa, as an example of “religious dress” is a very extreme garment, and in my book it’s always fair to laugh at religious extremism.

  • andym

    I’m all for ridiculing religion. Just not it’s victims.

  • andym

    Or even its victims.