By Ben Kerrigan-
Former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has been accused of dangerous Islamabphobia by a Tory peer who says his actions makes hate crime more likely. Sayeed Warsi has accused Boris Johnson of knowingly making the far reaching comments in what many have interpreted to be condescending, inappropriate, and disrespectful of Muslim women. Making misguided comments is nothing new to Boris Johnson, who has long been a strong candidate to succeed Theresa May, but allegations that Johnson deliberately made disparaging comments against Muslim women who wear the full veil is causing uproar in the Tory party.
Warsi says Boris Johnson’s refusal to apologize over the comments confirms his ill intentions, but this cannot be full proof of such conclusion. Johnson may simply believe he has the right to express his views about how Muslim covered in the full veil look, and may be expressing a hidden objection he has to the look without actually saying so. The former Foreign minister should still accept that it was unwise to make the comments in a newspaper, but he also knows an admission will be eternally held against him. His words will also forever be held against him but he may strongly believe he can defend his words which has caused a lot of uproar.
Johnson was writing an article for the Daily Telegraph in which he stated that described Muslim in burquas as looking like ”letter boxes” and ”bank robbers”. In the article – Johnson made clear he was not calling for a ban on the burqua, but chose to express his view that Muslim women who wear the full veil look like letter boxes. He was referring to the rectangular gap between the covered face of Muslim women who wear the full veil and their chin, only revealing their mouths. There will be many who would have a good laugh over the comment, as they visualize Johnson’s mind process as he made the comments. It could be viewed as a harmless and daring joke with no real offense intended, but the example of a bank robber added to that makes the former foreign secretary’s comments very worrying.
The reality of Islamaphobia in some parts of the Uk should lead to the conclusion that Boris Johnson should have thought a bit longer before making those comments in writing. Sayeeda Warsi expressed her angry views in a column for The British Guardian newspaper– a paper like a few others, known for standing up for principled issues. Warsi rips into Johnson in the article, describing his comments as reprehensible, and indicating that it potentially could lead to the alienation of British Muslim women in the Uk. Announcing herself as a feminist to those who don’t know much about her, Warsi accuses Johnson of deliberately making the comments for which he has been widely criticized. Some have even called for him to be stripped of his political whipp . She accuses of him of using women as ”political fodder”
“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,” Lady Warsi wrote.“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.”
The peer wrote that she was setting out “precisely why his remarks are indefensible” and said the phrases he used signaled something else.
“He said, not only to those Muslim women who veil, but to many more who associate with a faith in which some women do, that you don’t belong here,” Warsi said.
“I refuse to accept that these phrases were some kind of mistake, and the offence inadvertent – Johnson is too intelligent and too calculating for that. No, this was all quite deliberate. His refusal to apologize supports that.
MP Sayeed Warsi
“He set out a liberal position, but he did it in a very alt-right way. This allowed him to dog-whistle: to say to particular elements of the party that he’s tough on Muslims. Yet again, he’s trying to have his cake and eat it.”Anti-Muslim sentiments has in the past been directed at women wearing the veil, to which Warsi adds: “So, as much as Johnson thinks he’s being his usual clever self, he’s helping to create an environment in which hate crime is more likely.”
Every time incidents like this occur in the party and there are no consequences, it sends out a clear message that you can get away with Islamophobia. It means that ugly comments can actually enhance reputations, rather than ruin them. If my party follows up on a demand for an apology with real action, then these comments would eventually become rare” . Johnson has rejected calls by Theresa May to apologize for his comments, but Boris Johnson has expressed no intentions of doing so.
”Johnson’s words… 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, Warsi said.
Further pressure was today heaped on the unyielding former foreign secretary by the culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, who said Johnson should have chosen his language more carefully.
“When you are discussing a subject such as this, then I think describing it as people looking like letterboxes isn’t helpful. I think we should all choose our language with care,” he told the BBC’s Today programme on Wednesday. Wright said he was “sure on reflection” that Johnson would want to reconsider the language he had used. However, he swerved questions over whether the MP should have the whip removed, saying: “That’s not a decision for me.”