18:10 GMT23 November 2020
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    In his article, the politician said that women in hard-core Muslim clothing looked like “letter boxes” or like “bank robbers”, but insisted no-one’s personal feelings justify interventions in personal freedoms.

    An independent panel has cleared former UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson of breaking the Conservative Party's code of conduct over his article on the European burqa ban.

    The comments made by Johnson in his Daily Telegraph article written in August have been found "respectful and tolerant" and that it was absolutely okay to use "satire" to make his point.

    The article has sparked massive controversy, as Johnson said he thinks women wearing niqabs and burqas — the most restrictive kind of Muslim clothing for women — look like "letter boxes". In another paragraph, he compared them to "bank robbers".

    "It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes; and I thoroughly dislike any attempt by any — invariably male — government to encourage such demonstrations of ‘modesty'", Johnson wrote in the article

    "If a constituent came to my MP's surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled — like Jack Straw — to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly", the article read. "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".

    However, the point of the article, summarized in the last paragraph, was that while his own opinion towards Islamic clothing is unfriendly, he still believes attacking women in public places over their clothing is unacceptable. Criticizing Denmark's decision to join the European trend of outlawing burqas, Johnson used an example of a women being fined after someone tried to rip the headwear off her face in a public store to drive his point home.

    The article has, unsurprisingly, sparked massive criticism from Labour MPs, who accused Johnson of provoking Islamophobia and accused him of using the sensitive topic for his own political agenda, with MP David Lammy even calling Johnson a "pound-shop Donald Trump".

    An independent panel, chaired by Naomi Ellenbogen QC, which investigated the article, has found that while the language used in the article was arguably "provocative", it would nevertheless be "unwise to censor excessively the language of party representatives or the use of satire to emphasise a viewpoint, particularly a viewpoint that is not subject to criticism", The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday.

    Boris Johnson's allies have welcomed the panel ruling, which cleared Johnson of all claims, The Guardian reported.

    "It is welcome news that Boris has rightly been cleared of any breach of the code," one of Johnson's friends told reporters. "The panel's ruling completely supported what Boris said from the very beginning — his article did foster respect and tolerance for the wearing of the burqa".


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