No BoJo apol­ogy needed af­ter burka com­ments

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

When Boris John­son sat down to nail down an idea for his pop­u­lar col­umn, which is al­most as in­flu­en­tial as this one, did he do so with the over­rid­ing goal of caus­ing chaos within his own party?

Know­ing BoJo he prob­a­bly did but to sug­gest that his now in­fa­mous burka ar­ti­cle was a cal­cu­lated at­tempt to bring down the prime min­is­ter is per­haps giv­ing him a bit too much credit.

Surely not even Boris is that con­niv­ing? Re­gard­less, the con­se­quences of what he wrote have been wide reach­ing and the ques­tion of whether he should apol­o­gise for writ­ing it is still be­ing asked.

Many of those both chastis­ing and con­grat­u­lat­ing the for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary don’t ap­pear to have read the piece and have as­sumed he was call­ing for an out­right ban on the burka or the niqab. He wasn’t.

He was ac­tu­ally do­ing the op­po­site, although in the process he did say those wear­ing a full or near-full face veil re­sem­bled let­ter boxes and bank rob­bers.

It is that part of the col­umn which has caused the most con­tro­versy. Was what Boris said Is­lama­pho­bic or even racist? No. Was it funny? Not par­tic­u­larly, de­spite what Rowan ‘Mr Bean’ Atkin­son says. Was it of­fen­sive? Prob­a­bly. Does that mean he should apol­o­gise? No.

At first I was guilty of dis­miss­ing his com­ments as typ­i­cally out of touch de­spite not hav­ing read the col­umn, then I read it and de­cided de­spite the play­ground rhetoric, he was mak­ing a de­cent point, then I thought about it again and be­gan to see an is­sue.

The tar­get of Boris’ lan­guage ap­pears to be Mus­lim women who choose to dress in such a man­ner. But there’s no way all women who don a burka or niqab choose to do so.

Some are ex­cep­tion­ally vul­ner­a­ble and many not free to make their own de­ci­sions.

Should a lead­ing politi­cian be mock­ing the way vul­ner­a­ble women are be­ing made to dress? Surely that will lead to a rise in hate crime? There’s noth­ing wrong with the points Boris made but he’s fir­ing at the wrong tar­get.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.