In the last few days there have been many and variety of responses to Boris Johnson describing Muslim women in Niqab/burkas as looking like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”, but a short and simply analysis by David Lammy MP makes good sense: “Make no mistake, this was nothing less than a coordinated, cynical attack on Muslim women to appeal to racists and win a few days of headlines” he said.
Boris Johnson has gone beyond ‘do first, say sorry later’, which tends to confirm deep seated Islamophobia in the Tory Party – who can forget that no Tory, including Boris Johnson defender Eric Pickles, ever condemned their Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, an officer of Conservative Friends of Israel, who very recently hosted a known far right extremist .
Some senior Tories, including the prime minister, have reasoned with Boris Johnson to apologise for his language but he has not done so knowing that no action against him is likely as Theresa May can’t take risk of upsetting Boris-alike Tory MPs before Brexit crucial vote – another example of weak and wobbly prime minister.
While all this is going on, the ‘letter-box’ factor has aligned many far right/anti-Muslim extremists to support Boris Johnson narrative, as expected.
Very unfortunate that the response to ‘letter-box’ politics by some of those desperate for Muslim leadership, shows a general lack of understanding that far right extremists give a damn to who wears what and are least interested to hear sophistication of ideas about/justifications for Muslim woman dress, they simply want to rubbish Muslim values and culture for recognition and socio-political gains.
Rather than being on the front foot to challenge anti-Muslim behaviour, many Muslim leaders give a sense of softness, describing the hurt and apologetically justifying why some Muslim women are dressed as they are, pleading for women’s own choice! It would be much better for such insecure characters to have courage to say what is right and remember the context of their intervention!
The ‘letter-box’ write ups, like other attacks on Muslim socio-culture aspects, are not about the rights/wrongs of the dress but a manifestation of not accepting Muslim norms and values! Therefore, the challenge is not about tracking who said what about Muslims but essentially campaigning that Muslim norms and values are equally valued in a tolerant Britain, and to press for practising the principle of ‘different but equal‘! There are a lot of democratic processes to do that, including firmly lobbying the elected representatives and Parliament Square demonstrations!