Boris Johnson Apologises For Islamophobia In Tory Ranks

Boris Johnson Apologises For Islamophobia In Tory Ranks

Boris Johnson has apologised for Islamophobia in the Conservative party – but is still facing calls to say sorry for his own comments about Muslim women.

The prime minister replied “of course” when asked if he would apologise “for all the hurt and offence” cause by members, councillors and candidates guilty of racism against Muslims.

His comments came after Jeremy Corbyn refused four times to apologise for anti-Semitism in Labour in a bruising interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil.

But Tory former special adviser Salma Shah and ex-party chair Baroness Warsi have criticised Johnson’s own “crass” comments about Muslim women looking like “letter-boxes” and “bank robbers”.

Johnson, who has not yet set a date for his own party leader interview with Neil, was asked if he would apologise for Islamophobia in the Tory party while on an election visit to Cornwall.

The PM replied: “Of course, and for all the hurt and offence that has been caused – of course we do.

“All that is intolerable, and it’s so important as a country that we don’t allow that kind of thing, and that’s why we’re going to have the independent inquiry.”

Johnson has promised to hold an inquiry into discrimination in the party, watered down from a specific Islamophobia probe, by the end of the year.

Shah, a former adviser to chancellor Sajid Javid, has called for Johnson to make a direct apology about his 2018 Telegraph article about Muslim women.

Javid refused seven times on Tuesday to criticise the article, but Shah told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast: “I do think this issue about the Boris Johnson article is a serious and significant one.

“What Sajid Javid was saying is slightly lost in the furore of an election as well – actually Boris [Johnson] was making a liberal point in that argument: women should have the right to choose to wear what they want.

“What I cannot agree with, this is a personal view, is that when you are a person who has responsibility, whether it’s as a member of the cabinet or as backbench MP, you are supposed to be representing people and it is incumbent to be responsible in your language.

“He took a ‘journalese’ approach to that article, which is fine, he’s writing for the Telegraph.

“But can you have both things, can you be both things?

“Can you have that journalistic gusto and write about women who look like letter-boxes – and we can talk about the right to cause offence or not – can you do that whilst you are supposed to be someone who is responsible and representative?

“For me personally I would like to see Boris Johnson apologise for the use of the language.”

Earlier Tory former cabinet minister Baroness Warsi said the party had, “dragging and screaming”, finally started to acknowledge the issue of Islamophobia.

But she also directly criticised Johnson’s article.

Reacting to the apology, she told BBC Radio 4′s World at One programme: “I think it’s a good start and I’m pleased that finally we are starting to get to a point where hopefully we can start to acknowledge the extent of this issue, apologise for the fact that we have dragged our feet in dealing with it and then hopefully start an independent investigation into dealing with it.”

She added: “Indeed we saw that when Boris [Johnson] made those crass comments around Muslim women wearing the niqab, that many Muslim women, visibly Muslim women, were subsequently attacked on our streets.”

Asked about the PM, Warsi said: “I don’t believe that he is an Islamophobe, but I do believe that there is a space of privilege within which he exists where he feels sadly that there are no consequences to the words that he uses, even when those words are crass, offensive and racist.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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