I wear a veil – and this is why Boris Johnson should step down as an MP

Please send your letters to letters@independent.co.uk

Wednesday 08 August 2018 18:25 BST
‘The niqab is but a mere thin piece of material across a woman’s face: it’s the only thing which separates a veiled woman’s attire from that of a nun’
‘The niqab is but a mere thin piece of material across a woman’s face: it’s the only thing which separates a veiled woman’s attire from that of a nun’ (Getty)

I am writing to say that as a veiled British Muslim woman I found Boris Johnson’s comments on burqa-clad women to be categorically offensive as well as socially divisive.

Not only has he perpetuated the racist bigoted belief that veiled women are shady characters with sinister motives, but he’s also proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is no more than Trump’s transatlantic disciple!

Would he ask a nun to remove her habit should she visit his constituency office? I should think not.

In reality, the niqab is but a mere thin piece of material across a woman’s face. It is the only thing which separates a veiled woman’s attire from the attire of a nun. Quite simply put, veiled women resemble orthodox nuns in a close manner – ie they both wear a long black dress along with a black head covering.

This type of modest dress should be respected in society. It is a form of dress based on the clothing of Mary, the mother of Jesus, whom Muslims regard as being both a pious and God-fearing woman. However, Boris Johnson has chosen, instead, to mock, ridicule and vilify veiled women for their modest dress code.

The prime minister should have sacked him ages ago as he is more gaffe than governmental policy! His underlying resentment at being confined to the Tory back bench is being manifested in his attack on vulnerable members of society and in his fanning the flames of Islamaphobia for his own political gain.

A mere apology from him simply wouldn’t go far enough!

Sarah Adham

Give Boris even more publicity – it’ll make the Tories unelectable for decades

On the one hand, it seems that Boris Johnson clearly has a bad case of Trump syndrome – he’s an overgrown attention-seeking child.

So why give him so much publicity? The correct response, surely, would be to sigh deeply and ignore him.

But on the other hand, the more we see him for the bumbling self-promoter that he is, the more likely it is that if/when he becomes the leader of the Tories, his elite-serving, squabbling party will be rendered unelectable.

Susan Alexander
Frampton Cotterell

Johnson’s racism puts Labour’s antisemitism crisis into context

Boris Johnson’s attack on women who chose to wear the burqa – comparing them to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”was pure racism designed to appeal to racists. In this Johnson has form.

In an article published by The Daily Telegraph on 10 January 2002 Boris Johnson argued “the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies”.

In the same article he opined that Tony Blair’s visit to the Congo would make “the AK47s ... fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird”.

As editor of The Spectator Johnson argued in an article written in 2002 that the “problem” with Africa “is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge anymore”. He went on to insist that “left to their own devices, the natives would rely on nothing but the instant carbohydrate gratification of the plantain”.

On a visit to Uganda in 2003 Boris Johnson instructed Unicef workers there with the demand “…let’s go and look at some more piccaninnies”.

In September 2008 Johnson had to apologise to Papua New Guinea after he linked it to “cannibalism and chief-killing” in yet another of his noxious Daily Telegraph columns. His “apology” was as foul as his original offence: “I meant no insult to the people of Papua New Guinea who I’m sure lead lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity in common with the rest of us.”

In 2016 Johnson insisted that President Obama’s “part-Kenyan heritage” meant he had an “ancestral dislike” of Britain.

In May 2016 Johnson won a £1,000 prize for submitting the winning entry in a competition specifically designed to offend Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Johnson proved how much he had benefited from his expensive private education by producing a limerick about the Turkish president having sex with a goat.

It is revolting to see the committed anti-racist Jeremy Corbyn – whose opposition to racism is a matter of public record – being pilloried by the right-wing media for mythical “widespread” antisemitism in the Labour Party.

The same right-wing media have given Johnson licence to vomit up his racist bile for decades now.

Jeremy Corbyn has always been anti-racist. Boris Johnson has always been a racist and has always been in the political gutter soliciting for racist votes. That he is such a central figure in the Tory Party and remains welcome in the Tory Party says everything about its commitment to fighting racism.

Sasha Simic
N16, London

Time we had an internationally recognised definition of Islamophobia that we can demand the Tory Party sign up to?

G Forward

Where will all this nastiness lead?

I don’t “do” social media in any form, a decision I took soon after the launch of Facebook when people were posting pictures of their dinner plates and their new babies, and not much else. How things have changed.

Boris Johnson’s recent comments in his Telegraph column (burqas/letterboxes/bank robbers), and then my MP Heidi Allen’s tweeted response (“About as suitable to be PM as he was foreign secretary”) seem to have opened a floodgate of vitriol. I looked at some directed at her on her website and I am appalled. Realistically I imagine that this sort of thing is commonplace and probably most others are subjected to the same sort of thing. But in no way does that make it acceptable.

For as long as I can remember the British have hosted an undercurrent of racial intolerance and general superiority with regard to the rest of the world. But it was tolerable, just as living close to a dormant volcano is tolerable. The EU referendum seems to have lifted that veil of tolerance and the true nature of many of our citizens is now on show.

Most disturbingly they seem proud of their bigoted views and opinions and have no hesitation in giving vent to their nastiness.

As this wretched Brexit process grinds painfully onward, my personal hope for a tranquil retirement fades, and my despair deepens for future generations.

Where on earth will all this lead?

Steve Edmonson

The ‘Today’ programme is too downbeat

The news that the Radio 4 programme Today has lost over a million listeners is perhaps not too much of a surprise to the regular listener.

Since the days of Jack de Manio, Brian Redhead and John Timpson, the programme has changed beyond recognition.

Although the programme content has always been on the serious side, there was far more variety and always room for a moment or two of humour.

These days the programme gives the impression of being nothing more than three hours of politics, frequently covering the same argument day after day.

The style of interviewing has changed considerably since the old days, with the interviewers being very aggressive and very rude by often interrupting an answer and not allowing the interviewee a chance to finish their point.

One very irritating habit of the current interviewers is to say to an interviewee, “could I have a brief answer as we are running out of time”, and then proceed ask an extremely long and complicated question.

The programme is broadcast at the start of a day when the listener would like a little encouragement and optimism.

Sadly, most of the items contain vast quantities of pessimism and depression.

When did you last hear John Humphrys, or Nick Robinson, sound really excited, optimistic and happy about any item on a programme?

It is no wonder that so many listeners have moved to more cheerful and uplifting programmes to start the day prior to facing the everyday routine of their place of work.

Colin Bower

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