Is Boris a berk over burqas? – Sean Blackman

Boris faces calls to resign over burqa letterbox comments
Boris faces calls to resign over burqa letterbox comments

We are coming to a time when it is difficult to remember when Boris Johnson was not in the news for something he said which offended one group or another.

In branding full-face covering burqas ‘ridiculous’ he has provoked a stampede of people across the political divide who have been either offended or offended on behalf of others to call for an apology, Johnson’s resignation or disciplinary action of some kind.

The irony is that Johnson was defending the rights of Muslim women to wear burqas.

To be specific, he was not calling for a ban on burqas but criticising Denmark’s decision to do so.

Johnson clearly does not like the burqa and branded it 'oppressive' and said it is 'weird and bullying to expect people to cover their faces'. He said he felt 'fully entitled' to expect women who wear face coverings to take them off when talking to him at his MP surgery.

Johnson’s mistake was to use pejorative examples of women who wear them 'looking like a bank robber' or ‘letter boxes’.

The difficulty with the burka is that some claim women are being forced to cover up against their will and they are used as tool of oppression. 

Furthermore, terror suspects have escaped surveillance by disguising themselves in burqas.  

There is a place for political correctness. It's purpose i s to avoid forms of expression or actions that are perceived to exclude, marginalise, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

So, was Boris a berk about the burqa? 

Yes, when it came to his unhelpful comparisons.  No, when it comes to his argument against a ban.

 As Johnson said, 'If you go for a total ban, you play into the hands of those who want to politicise and dramatise the so-called clash of civilisations; and you fan the flames of grievance. 

‘You risk turning people into martyrs, and you risk a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation, and you may simply make the problem worse.'