Member of Parliament Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi was applauded in the House of Commons Wednesday for demanding an apology from Johnson over an article he wrote for The Daily Telegraph last year. Johnson’s column called a Danish ban on burqas “heavy-handed,” but said it was ridiculous that Muslim women “choose to go around looking like letterboxes” and suggested women wearing burqas look like “bank robbers.”
Johnson, however, refused to apologize, arguing his column actually defended Muslim women’s rights.
Singh Dhesi questioned whether Johnson’s comments befit a member of Parliament, or any public official.
“Mr. Speaker, if I decide to wear a turban, or you decide to wear a cross, or he decides to wear a kippah or a skullcap, or she decides to wear a hijab or a burqa,” Singh Dhesi said, motioning around the room. “Does that mean it is open season for right honorable members of this house to make derogatory and divisive remarks about our appearance?”
Singh Dhesi said he and others who have grown up hearing Islamophobic slurs “can appreciate full well the pain felt by already-vulnerable Muslim women when they are described as looking like bank robbers and letterboxes.”
A recent study cited data showing a surge in Islamophobic incidents in Britain in the week after Johnson’s column was published.