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UK: May urges Johnson for apology over burqa remarks

Former foreign secretary caused anger after likening Muslim women in burqas to 'letterboxes' and 'bank robbers'

UK: May urges Johnson for apology over burqa remarks

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal


British Prime Minister Theresa May has urged her former Cabinet member and ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson to apologize over his Islamophobic remarks Tuesday.

May said she agreed with the Conservative party chairman, Brandon Lewis, that Johnson should say sorry for resembling burqa wearing Muslim women to letterboxes and bank robbers.

"Some of the terms Boris used describing people's appearance obviously have offended," May said.

"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,” May told reporters following a meeting with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

"I believe women should be able to choose how they dress," she said.

May underlined that she is “very clear and the government is very clear about our position on the issue of the burqa, which is that women should be able to choose how to dress.”

“It’s up to a woman to decide how to dress, it’s not up to other people to tell a woman how to dress,” she added.

Johnson has come under fire after his offensive remarks with many MPs, NGOs, Muslim organizations and councils denouncing them.

May said discussions “about issues like this, but in doing that we all have to be very careful about the language and the terms that we use.”

“Some of the terms that Boris [Johnson] used in describing people’s appearance obviously have offended people…,” she added.

Earlier on Tuesday, The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has called on the Conservative party to respond to serious concerns of Islamophobia.

“Today the Muslim Council of Britain calls on the Conservatives to respond to serious concerns of Islamophobia in the party, especially after Boris Johnson made unacceptable remarks comparing Muslim women who wear the niqab to letterboxes and bank robbers,” a statement from the MCB read.

The MCB also said that while it was right for party chairman to call on Johnson to apologize, the party should now act upon calls that had been previously ignored.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) wrote two letters to the Conservatives this year urgently calling for an inquiry, as have groups such as the National Union of Students, the Union of Jewish Students, and institutions representing over 200 mosques in the U.K.

Johnson last month resigned as foreign secretary amid disagreement with Prime Minister Theresa May over her Brexit plans on future relations with the EU.

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