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AFP
August 11, 2018

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UK in a frenzy over Boris Johnson’s burqa comments

LONDON: In a quiet summer week, a disparaging quip about the burqa by ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson has sparked a frenzied debate in Britain drawing in religion, politics and Brexit.

The former London mayor wrote a column in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Monday saying the full Muslim face veil should not be banned but women who wear it look like "letter boxes" and "bank robbers".

The comment prompted a frenzy of reaction, with campaigners accusing Johnson of encouraging Islamophobia. Brandon Lewis, the chairman of the ruling Conservatives, asked him to apologise and the party launched an investigation after receiving dozens of complaints. But some Tory MPs defended Johnson’s right to speak out, while he also drew support from some unexpected areas.

"Mr Bean" and "Blackadder" star Rowan Atkinson noted on Friday that "all jokes about religion cause offence", and apologies were only required where the joke was not funny. In the letter pages of The Times, meanwhile, Muslim scholars sparred over whether the niqab and burqa had a basis in the Koran, and veiled British women were interviewed on live TV.

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