National Shame or Push for Power? Twitter Reacts to Johnson's Burqa Rhetoric

© AFP 2022Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (L) and his British counterpart Boris Johnson (R) tour the site of the first British embassy in the historic quarter of Jeddah on January 25, 2018.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (L) and his British counterpart Boris Johnson (R) tour the site of the first British embassy in the historic quarter of Jeddah on January 25, 2018. - Sputnik International
Currently favorite to become the next Conservative Party leader in Britain, UK's former Foreign Minister provoked a strong backlash on social media following the publication of his weekly column.

Boris Johnson called Muslim head veils 'oppressive' for women and said it is "absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes."

"If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree — and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran," Mr. Johnson wrote in his Daily Telegraph weekly column.

He also added that he would "feel fully entitled to ask" a female constituent to remove her veil so that he "could talk to her properly."

"If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto: those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct," Mr. Johnson said.

Reactions to Mr. Johnson's comments poured in on social networks, alleging he represented the widespread Islamophobia within the Tory party, normalized far-right rhetoric and attempted to regain support of now UK Independence (UKIP) party members. Others, however, agreed that elements of discussed dress code are inappropriate in the British society.  

The comments by Britain's former top diplomat come after Denmark banned clothing hiding a person's face, including some traditional Islamic headwear such as niqabs and burqas. The ban took effect on August 1, 2018.

Mr. Johnson however argued against the total ban, suggesting it "would play into the hands of those who want to politicize and dramatize the so-called clash of civilizations."

"You risk turning people into martyrs, and you risk a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation, and you may simply make the problem worse," Mr. Johnson said.

On August 4, Danish police fined a 28-year-old woman for wearing a niqab — a traditional Arab headdress that conceals the face and only leaves an open slot for the eyes — in a shopping center.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attends a news conference with Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto (not pictured) in Budapest, Hungary, March 2, 2018. - Sputnik International
The 'Best' of Boris: UK Top Diplomat & the Art of Being Ill-Equipped

READ MORE: 'Great News': Public Reacts to Denmark's First Fine for Violating Full Veil Ban 

According to the title of his column, Mr. Johnson believes that "Denmark has got it wrong" and even though "the burka is oppressive and ridiculous," it is "still no reason to ban it."

Boris Johnson has resigned from the post of Britain's Foreign Minister early July. During his time as UK's top diplomat, Mr. Johnson was embroiled in numerous gaffes and scandals, which saw critics call for his resignation.

READ MORE: The 'Best' of Boris: UK Top Diplomat & the Art of Being Ill-Equipped

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