Boris Johnson burqa comments ‘led to surge in anti-Muslim attacks’

Posted On: 
2nd September 2019

Boris Johnson’s comments about the burqa led to a “significant spike” in Islamophobic incidents, according to an anti-racism organisation.

Boris Johnson made the comments in a newspaper column in 2018
Credit: 
PA Images

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Tell MAMA said there was a 375% week-on-week increase after the Prime Minister compared women who wear a full face veil to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” in a newspaper column.

The organisation say 38 incidents were reported to police, and of those 22 involved “visibly Muslim women who wore the face veil”.

Mr Johnson had called the face coverings “oppressive” in a controversial article for the Telegraph in August 2018.

He said they should not be banned, but it was “absolutely ridiculous” women chose to “go around looking like letterboxes”.

After heavy criticism from senior Tories and demands for an apology from the-then party chairman, Brandon Lewis, Mr Johnson insisted the backlash was nothing more than “confected indignation”.

But Tell MAMA said between 5 August and 29 August last year, 42% of the street-based incidents reported to them directly referenced Mr Johnson and the language used in his column.

The statistics come from its report on Islamophobia in 2018, which also says there was rise in activity after ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ letters inciting violence were sent out.

Overall they recorded 2,963 anti-Muslim hate incidents in 2018, saying there had been an 11% reduction in incidents carried out in public from 2017.

A spokesperson for Tell Mama said: “The rising instances of discrimination, hate speech, and anti-Muslim literature indicate that a more general intolerance and hatred is growing.

“These typologies are seldom prosecutable by law and have proven more difficult to achieve satisfactory outcomes and solutions for victims.”

In response to the report the Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick said: “I am utterly appalled by hatred aimed at Muslims in Britain or at those of any faith, and I am determined to tackle it.

“We have put millions into protecting all places of worship and we continue to fund education courses to tackle this scourge at its root. While it is welcome to see that reported incidents of abuse online and on our streets has fallen, it’s clear that there is more to do.

“Muslims, and people of all faiths, must feel safe in Britain. As Communities Secretary, I will do everything in my power to stamp out hatred in all its forms, wherever it appears.”