Boris Johnson under mounting pressure to apologize for controversial burqa comments

Howard TerryAug 10, 2018

Former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson sparked a row over Islamophobia by describing Muslim women wearing burqas as "ridiculous" and "weird".

The Belgian parliament passed a bill in 2010 to ban any clothing that would obscure the identity of the wearer in public places.

Parliament agreed a ban on face-covering garments for soldiers, state workers vehicle and truck drivers in 2017.

Denmark last week became the latest of several European countries to adopt curbs on face veils.

The new law went into effect August 1.

Mr Johnson will be given the opportunity to make a statement providing "any evidence or details that will help to establish their position".

The complaints will be assessed by an independent panel appointed by the Conservative party Chairman Brandon Lewis and the Chair of the 1992 backbench committee of Conservative MPs.

Latin-spouting, tousle-headed Johnson is a former mayor of London and one of Britain's best-known politicians.

People who violate the new law can face up to six months' jail time, as well as fines.

The letter, seen exclusively by Sky News, says an apology would be "insufficient" and that Mr Johnson made a "deliberate choice" to "inflame tensions in a way that makes it easier for bigots to justify hate crime against us". That step would mean he could not represent the party, and would be barred from standing in a future leadership contest. UK Prime Minister Theresa May also said on the matter, "It was the wrong language to use".

"You're forgetting that there's a human being behind it", she said on ITV's Good Morning Britain.

It said Islamophobia was "heavily gendered" with white men carrying out nearly three quarters of verified incidents past year, while Muslim women made up more than half of victims. "Can you imagine if a man comes along, and you're wearing a miniskirt, and he pulls it down?"

Supporters say women should be free to dress as they choose and that such divisive debate only increases pressure on them to cover up.

On those that wear the burka he appeared to draw comparisons with a female student who turned up to school "looking like a bank robber" - adding they should be asked to remove their face covering.

She said: "Now, literally people are messaging me on Twitter and calling me a "letterbox".

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