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BoJo was ‘respectful’ when he compared Muslim women to ‘letterboxes’ – panel clears MP of misconduct

BoJo was ‘respectful’ when he compared Muslim women to ‘letterboxes’ – panel clears MP of misconduct
Boris Johnson has been cleared of breaking the Tories’ code of conduct after comparing Muslim women to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers.” The decision has led to uproar from Muslim and anti-racist groups.

Writing in the Telegraph, Johnson used the terms when arguing against full-face veils – niqabs or burqas – sometimes worn by Muslim women. The article received scores of complaints, prompting an investigation by an independent panel.

READ MORE: ‘Islamophobia allegations politically motivated’: Tory vice-chair slammed for remarks

Johnson was entitled to use “satire,” the panel found, adding that the ex-foreign secretary was “respectful and tolerant.”

No stranger to controversy, the outspoken Brexiteer refused to apologize for the remarks despite being urged to do so by his bosses; Prime Minister Theresa May and Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis.

The panel, chaired by Naomi Ellenbogen QC, found that while Johnson’s language was “provocative,” it was “unwise to censor excessively the language of party representatives or the use of satire to emphasize a viewpoint, particularly a viewpoint that is not subject to criticism.”

It added that the Conservative Party rule does not “override an individual’s right to freedom of expression,” and that Johnson was “fully entitled” to expect women to remove face coverings while talking to him during an MP’s surgery.

In the days after the publication of Johnson’s column, Tell Mama – a watchdog that records Islamophobic hate crimes – noted an uptick in incidents targeting veiled women. It claimed there was a “direct link” between Johnson’s comments and the incidents.

The Muslim Council of Britain, which represents 500 mosques, schools and associations, has decried the panel’s decision. It also noted that the column had led “to copycat verbal assaults against Muslim women.”

READ MORE: Why did top Tories share platform with Hindu nationalist who wants Muslim birth-rate controls?

Labeling the remarks “dehumanizing,” their statement read: “Reports at the time suggested that his Telegraph column had real-world consequences, directly leading to ‘copycat’ verbal assaults against Muslim women and the unleashing of hate and Islamophobia from Conservative supporters.”

“Mr Johnson is not a satirist – he is a Member of Parliament, and as such has a responsibility to set the tone for the rest of the UK to follow.

“In this case, it is far-right Islamophobes who have been empowered to follow his rhetoric,” the statement added.

READ MORE: Calls for Tory MP to resign over ‘vile racist’ and ‘Islamophobic’ image of pig mounting Sadiq Khan

The Tories have repeatedly come under fire from Muslim groups and opposition parties for failing to tackle anti-Muslim sentiments in the party of government. Numerous Conservative MPs, councillors and activists have been accused of Islamophobia.

Brandon Lewis, the Tory chairman, has previously vowed to “stamp out” Islamophobia.

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