Johnson refuses to apologise over 'offensive' burqa comments

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Johnson refuses to apologise over 'offensive' burqa comments

The Prime Minister has said Boris Johnson caused offence over comments he made about Muslim women - and backed calls for him to apologise.

The former foreign secretary sparked outrage on Monday for saying he found the covering worn by some Muslim women "oppressive" and questioned why they would "go around looking like letter boxes".

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said Johnson's comments were "offensive" and former Tory chair Sayeeda Warsi said they were "crass".

Lady Warsi also echoed calls for an independent inquiry into alleged Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, claiming the party's Old Etonians were crassly using Muslim women as "a political battleground and it must be condemned by the leadership right from the Prime Minister down".

Tell MAMA, an NGO tracking hate crime targeting Muslims in Britain, said in a statement that Johnson's comments "dehumanise" Muslim women.

She added that the language used by Mr Johnson showed he was "pandering to this Islamaphobic attitude bubbling away in the Conservative Party", which she said she had experienced herself.

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

Mr Lewis said he agreed with Mr Burt and called on the MP and former London mayor to apologise.

She suggested the Mr Johnson take part in "training and engagement with the Muslim community" and accused his party of having "an issue with Islamophobia" while pointing out Theresa May had not responded more than 24 hours after the publication.

Mr Johnson's father, Stanley, came to his defence, telling ITV1's Good Morning Britain: "I think we are just picking holes here. Stop bullying women who are mostly less fortunate than you".

Mr McDonnell lumped Mr Johnson in with Tommy Robinson and a group of vandals who stormed a left-wing bookshop as proof of the emergence of far-right forces in British society.

"The Anti-Nazi League was an iconic movement over several decades that successfully combated the far right through the mass mobilisation of trade unionists and anti-racist campaigners".

He was released from prison earlier this month but could still face jail over an allegation that he committed contempt of court by filming people in a criminal trial and broadcasting footage on social media.

He noted there had been no follow up to his June meeting with party members over complaints of anti-Muslim incidents.

"Any clothing a woman is forced to wear which hides both her beauty and her bruises should be banned and have no place in our liberal, progressive country", she said.

She also refused to say if she thought the comments were Islamophobic - as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said they were.

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