Boris Johnson should not apologise for telling the truth about burka because it has ‘no Koranic legitimacy’, says Oxford Imam
- Former foreign secretary branded full face covering ‘ridiculous’ in his column
- Boris won’t say sorry for saying fully-veiled Muslim women resembled robbers
- Imam Taj Hargey said Mr Johnson ‘did not go far enough’ and wants burka ban
- Remainers across the Tory party queued up to condemn him over remarks
- Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson says veil is no different to wearing a crucifix
- Column came after the face covering ban in Denmark which sparked protests
A senior British Imam today backed Boris Johnson saying he must ‘not apologise for telling the truth’ about the burka because it is ‘un-Muslim’ and a ‘hideous tribal ninja-like garment’.
The former foreign secretary is under fire for saying fully-veiled Muslim women resembled letter boxes or robbers.
Today Imam Taj Hargey, from the Oxford Islamic Congregation, said Mr Johnson ‘did not go far enough’ because the burka has ‘no Koranic legitimacy’ and should be banned in Britain.
It came as Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson slammed Boris and said wearing a veil is no different to wearing a crucifix.
Imam Taj Hargey, pictured last year on ITV’s This Mornibf with Sahar Al-Faifi, has backed Boris Johnson in the ongoing burka row and he believes it should be banned
Mr Johnson, who is on holiday, refused to back down, despite calls from critics including the prime minister to apologise. Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said wearing a veil is no different to wearing a crucifix.
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Dr Hargey told The Times the burka and niqab are: ‘A nefarious component of a trendy gateway theology for religious extremism and militant Islam’.
The Imam has been a critic of the burka and previously allowed men and women to pray together as well as discouraging Muslim-only schools.
Boris is right – the burka must be banned, says Oxford Imam
Dr Taj Hargey, Imam, Oxford Islamic Congregation, has written to The Times to back the former foreign secretary.
Here is his letter in full:
Boris Johnson should not apologise for telling the truth. His evocative analogy is unfortunate but he is justified in reminding everyone that the Wahhabi/Salafi-inspired fad of female facial masking has no Koranic legitimacy. It is, however, a nefarious component of a trendy gateway theology for religious extremism and militant Islam.
The burka and niqab are hideous tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim. Although this deliberate identity-concealing contraption is banned at the Kaaba in Mecca it is permitted in Britain, thus precipitating security risks, accelerating vitamin D deficiency, endorsing gender-inequality and inhibiting community cohesion.
The retrogressive Islamic clergy has succeeded in persuading ill-informed Muslims through suspect secondary sources that God wants women to cover their faces, when in reality it is a toxic patriarchy controlling women. Is it any wonder that many younger women have internalised this poisonous chauvinism by asserting that it is their human right to hide their faces? Johnson did not go far enough. If Britain is to become a fully integrated society then it is incumbent that cultural practices, personal preferences and communal customs that aggravate social division should be firmly resisted. For this reason Britain must emulate France, Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria and Denmark in banning the burka.
He said: ‘The burka and niqab are hideous tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim. Although this deliberate identity-concealing contraption is banned at the Kaaba in Mecca it is permitted in Britain, thus precipitating security risks, accelerating vitamin D deficiency, endorsing gender-inequality and inhibiting community cohesion.
‘Johnson did not go far enough. Britain must emulate France, Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria and Denmark in banning the burka’.
Senior figures called for Mr Johnson to apologise or lose the Tory whip for saying fully-veiled Muslim women resembled letter boxes or robbers.
Ruth Davidson, who is seen as a potential rival to Mr Johnson for the party leadership, said questioning the burka was like challenging the rights of Christians to wear a crucifix.
But Mr Johnson, who is on holiday, refused to back down. His supporters claim the row is being exploited by Tory Remainers angry at his position on Brexit.
The row began on Monday when the former foreign secretary wrote about the burka in his Daily Telegraph column.
Mr Johnson said he was opposed to banning the garment in public places, but added: ‘It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.
‘If a constituent came to my surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled to ask her to remove it.
‘If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto.’
The remarks sparked outrage from Muslim groups and MPs who accused him of ‘fanning the flames of Islamophobia’.
Over the past three days Tory and Labour figures have taken to the airwaves to condemn Mr Johnson.
Yesterday, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright stepped up the attacks, claiming it was wrong for Mr Johnson to describe the burka as ‘ridiculous and oppressive’. He told the BBC: ‘That’s the sort of language I think we should try to avoid using.’
Mr Johnson compared Muslim women who wear face-covering veils to letter boxes and bank robbers in his Daily Telegraph column
The Conservative chairman tweeted out a message of solidarity with those who have called for Mr Johnson to apologise
Miss Davidson, who leads the Scottish Tories, said: ‘This wasn’t an off-the-cuff slip, he wrote a column, he knew exactly what he was doing and I think it crossed from being provocative and starting a debate and it became rude and gratuitous.
What Boris said about the burka
The former foreign secretary used his column to comment on Denmark’s introduction of a burka ban.
The burka is a full face covering that is associated with a conservative interpretation of Islam.
It is not to be confused with the hijab, which leaves the face uncovered, or the niqab, which leaves the eyes exposed.
In his Daily Telegraph article Mr Johnson said that he felt ‘fully entitled’ to expect women who wear face coverings to take them off when talking to him at his MP surgery.
He also said schools and universities are entitled to take the same approach if a pupil comes in ‘looking like a bank robber’.
Mr Johnson branded the burka ‘oppressive’ and said it is ‘weird and bullying to expect people to cover their faces’.
He added that he could not find scriptural authority for the dress code in the Koran.
And he said ‘it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes’.
‘If you use the analogy of Christianity, would you ever write in the Daily Telegraph that you should have a debate about banning Christians from wearing crucifixes?
‘It’s the same argument but it’s in a different faith so why are the parameters different for one faith and not the other?
‘That’s where you start getting these questions of what constitutes anti-Semitism, what constitutes Islamophobia.
‘I agree with the point of his piece which was you shouldn’t ban the burka, the niqab, the hijab – I don’t think we should ban it – but what he said was a gratuitously offensive way of saying it.’
Lord Sheikh, the founder and president of the Conservative Muslim Forum, demanded the party whip be withdrawn from Mr Johnson. He said he had written to party chairman Brandon Lewis calling for severe action over the views.
‘In a way it is racist,’ the peer told Sky News. ‘These words are very inflammatory. They will cause problems with race relations. It will encourage bigotry.’ The Conservative Party last night declined to comment on whether it would begin formal disciplinary action to investigate Mr Johnson.
Former party chairman Lord Pickles suggested he had been treated more lightly than other members might be.
Writing in The Guardian, Baroness Warsi said Mr Johnson’s comments ‘send out a message that Muslim women are fair game’. She added: ‘What starts as useful targets for “colourful political language” and the odd bit of toxic campaigning ends up in attacks on our streets.
‘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. 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.’
Theresa May (pictured in Edinburgh yesterday) said that Boris Johnson should apologise for the remarks as they had clearly offended some people
Mr Johnson’s column came amid protests in Denmark (pictured) which has introduced a ban on face coverings
Denmark’s new face veil ban is likely to apply to the niqab and burka – not the hijab and chador
British woman who wears a niqab accuses Boris of fuelling intolerance
Sahar al-Faifi (pictured) told ITV’s Good Morning Britain, that she has faced verbal and physical abuse for covering up.
A British Muslim woman who wears a niqab, accused Mr Johnson of fuelling intolerance of women like her – leaving them open to attack.
Sahar al-Faifi told ITV’s Good Morning Britain, that she has faced verbal and physical abuse for covering up.
Bit she said that for her wearing a niqab is an act of faith.
She said: ‘This is deeply embarrassing for us- you are forgetting there’s a human being behind this.
‘He is criminalising us in public life. He has a negative impact on us and makes us feel unsafe in the street. I have faced verbal and physical abuse.
‘I was speaking to a woman recently and she was physically assaulted – her niqab was pulled off in the shop she worked in… she said she felt she had been sexually assaulted. She was left feeling as though she was naked in the street.’
But Nadine Dorries, a backbench Tory MP, said the backlash showed Mr Johnson’s rivals were terrified of him challenging the Prime Minister.
She told TalkRadio: ‘People who are outraged – who are utterly terrified – know that at some stage, any day soon, Boris may make a challenge for the leadership and the position in No 10. Yes, some people were offended but they are not people who would vote for Boris or ever vote Conservative anyway.’
The first opinion poll on the row showed backing for Mr Johnson.
According to the survey by Sky Data, 60 per cent believe it was not racist to compare Muslim women wearing burkas to bank robbers or letter boxes, while 33 per cent said it was. Forty-eight per cent thought Mr Johnson should not apologise for his remarks, compared with 45 per cent who thought he should.
Mr Johnson wrote the newspaper article after Denmark became the latest European country to impose a ban on wearing burkas in public.
Almost 60 per cent of respondents said they supported enacting such a ban in the UK.
For the poll, Sky Data interviewed a representative sample of 1,649 customers by text message.
Tory MP Conor Burns, who was Mr Johnson’s parliamentary private secretary, said his former boss’s critics had an agenda. He tweeted: ‘We are now into full bandwagon-jumping territory. Seeing some of the tweets from colleagues desperate not to get left behind I can’t see they can even have read it.’
Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry said she would not want a woman wearing a burka to look after her young daughter
The Labour shadow minister made the comments while on Newsnight in 2013 (pictured)
Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry said she would not feel comfortable with a woman in a burka looking after her young daughter or elderly mother, it was today revealed.
The shadow foreign secretray told a BBC Newsnight audience back in 2013 that women in certain roles must show their faces.
However she said she does not agree with a ban and that burka-clad women could work in back office roles.
She said: ‘I wouldn’t want my four year old looked after by somebody wearing a burka.
‘I wouldn’t want my elderly mum looked after by somebody wearing a burka. They need to be able to show their face.
‘I wouldn’t mind if they worked in records in the hospital.’
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