Naz Shah slams Boris Johnson and accuses him of Islamophobia

Boris Johnson comments

Boris Johnson comments

He has been criticised by Labour MPs, some Tories and Muslim groups, who said the party was not doing enough to tackle prejudice.

Asked if Mr Johnson's column amounted to Islamophobia, Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Tell Mama UK, which campaigns against anti-Muslim violence, told Radio 4's Today programme: "Clearly it does, these are the kind of comments we have seen that have been made by extremist far-right groups and people who have been maliciously attacking Muslims, so clearly it does fit that bracket".

The assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Miqdaad Versi, said Mr Johnson was "pandering to the far right".

Yet while Johnson is against banning the burqa, he is nonetheless critical of this garment.

Middle East Minister Alistair Burt criticized Johnson on Tuesday for comments he said "many people would find offensive".

Asked about Johnson's comments, the prime minister's official spokesperson said: "The long-standing government position is clear and it is that we do not support a ban on the wearing of the veil in public".

Former Conservative chairwoman Lady Warsi, the first Muslim women to sit in a British cabinet, welcomed Mr Lewis's intervention and called for disciplinary action against Mr Johnson if he did not apologise. He suggested the Muslim community wanted reassurance from Downing Street.

Labour MP David Lammy responded by branding Mr Johnson a "pound-shop Donald Trump".

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She added: "Muslim women should not be a useful political battleground for old Etonians".

But Conservative backbench MP Andrew Bridgen said Mr Johnson had raised an important subject in a "light-hearted way".

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

Johnson wrote: "If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you".

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".

He said he opposed a ban on the face-covering veils, but described them as "absolutely ridiculous" and compared their wearers to rebellious teenagers.

Friends insisted he was making a liberal case against the United Kingdom following countries like Denmark, France, Germany and Austria in imposing a ban on wearing the burka or niqab in public places.

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