British politician and popular historian Boris Johnson sparked a controversy after he said that women who wear burqas look like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’.
Johnson said in a column in Monday’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that women wearing the full-face veil looked like “bank robbers” or “letter-boxes”, prompting accusations of Islamophobia.
In his article, Johnson said he opposed a ban on face-covering veils but added that it was “absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter-boxes”.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said his remarks “have clearly caused offence” and she agreed with, Brandon Lewis, the chairman of her Conservative party, who had asked Johnson to apologise.
“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,” the Prime Minister said.
“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,” the British Prime Minister added.
However, the former foreign secretary, who has a history of causing controversies, has refused to apologise for his comment.
“It is ridiculous that these views are being attacked – we must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on difficult issues,” a source close to Johnson told reporters.
The comment made by Johnson comes after a 28-year-old woman in Denmark was fined for wearing full-face Islamic laws. The new law states that no individual can wear full-face veils.
Johnson’s controversial remark has drawn a lot of condemnation from former colleagues. “I would never have made such a comment, I think there is a degree of offence in that, absolutely right,” Junior Foreign Minister told the BBC.