LONDON: Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s Islamophobic comments regarding the niqab and the burka have led to a sharp rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes, an advocacy group said.
Tell Mama, which tracks and documents anti-Muslim violence, has reported a four-fold increase in hate crime against Muslim women, especially those that wear the niqab or burka.
“In the week before Johnson’s comments, Tell Mama reported no incidents against women wearing a niqab,” the group said in a statement, citing the former Foreign Secretary’s comments in which he compared Muslim women who wore the niqab and the burka to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” in an article in the Daily Telegraph.
However, following Johnson’s comments, Tell Mama reported:
“A London woman wearing a niqab reported being abused… with another three incidents reported in the capital and Luton the following day and another taking place in London on Friday.”
These attacks, both verbal and physical, have not been limited to Muslim women wearing the niqab and the burka as “anti-Muslim abuse directed at women wearing the hijab also rose significantly with five incidents reported in Guilford, Leicester and London on the day that Johnson’s column was published,” the group said.
In total, there have 21 individual cases in which Muslim women wearing the niqab, burka or hijab have suffered racial abuse and assault in the week Johnson’s article was published which was on August 6th. This number has risen by 15 in comparison to the five incidents reported a week before the publication.
The former Foreign Secretary has refused to apologize for the Islamophobic comments and has come under investigation from within the Conservative party over possible breaches of the party’s code of conduct.
A plethora of senior individuals and organizations have called on Johnson to apologize and that he faces a full disciplinary inquiry. (AA)