British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had “felt no offense” from his previous statements about Muslim women.
Johnson was interviewed as part of an independent report on the dimensions of Islamophobia and discrimination within the Conservative Party, led by Swaran Singh, a professor at the University of Warwick.
Regarding his comments in an article he wrote in 2018 for the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, in which he compared Muslim women to burqas and niqabs (clothes that cover the head and face except for the eyes) with “bank robbers” and “mailboxes”.
“I know they are offended by the things I said, which is that people expect someone in my position to do things well, but in journalism you need to use language freely,” Johnson said.
“Obviously, I am sorry for any insult committed. Shall I use some offensive language from my previous writing today? Now that I’m prime minister, I’m not going to do that.”
Johnson justified the article by saying that it is a liberal defense of the right of Muslim women to choose what they wear.
The anti-racism group Hope Not Hate described the British prime minister’s apology as “insincere”.
The report, published on Tuesday, revealed that the Conservative Party’s central database recorded 1,418 complaints about 727 incidents of discrimination between 2015 and 2020. Two-thirds of these incidents related to anti-Islam attitudes and three-quarters of them were committed on social media. .
The report also confirmed that sanctions had been imposed on 231 people who had been denounced due to discrimination among them were anti-Islam, and that 50% of the reprehensible had been suspended from work and 29% had been expelled from the party.
In 481 incidents, no action was taken due to lack of evidence.
The report noted that “anti-Islamic thinking within the party remains a problem. It harms the party and leads to the isolation of a large part of society.”
He added that notable events, such as Johnson’s comments, “give the impression to many that the party and its leadership are insensitive to the Muslim communities.”
See also: Double standards in Europe have given rise to Islamophobia.
* Aisha Sandoval Alaguna contributed to writing this note.
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