Pressure is growing on Boris Johnson to apologise after he described Muslim women who wear the burqa as looking like “letter boxes”.
Conservative party’s Sayeeda Warsi has now accused the former foreign secretary of using rightwing, “alt-right” language.
In her article in the Guardian today, Warsi wrote: “As a feminist, what really disgusts me in this whole episode is that Muslim women are simply political fodder, their lives a convenient battleground on which to stake out a leadership bid.”
“Well, this approach is not just offensive, it’s dangerous. Johnson’s words have once again validated the view of those that ‘other’ Muslims. They send out a message that Muslim women are fair game. What starts as useful targets for ‘colourful political language’ and the odd bit of toxic campaigning ends up in attacks on our streets.”
The criticism comes just hours after PM Theresa May demanded that Boris apologise: “I do think that we all have to be very careful about the language and terms we use. And some of the terms Boris used describing people’s appearance obviously have offended…”
“What’s important is do we believe people should have the right to practise their religion and, in the case of women and the burka and niqab, to choose how they dress. I believe women should be able to choose how they dress,” May had said.
While criticising Denmark for imposing fines on women for wearing the face-covering veils in the streets, Boris had written: “If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you. If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree – and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran.
“I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”