Writing in The Daily Telegraph the former foreign secretary and general expert in foreign diplomacy Boris Johnson compared women who wear the niqab to letter boxes.
“If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you. 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,” he wrote.
“I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”
Johnson was criticising Denmark’s introduction this month of a ban on wearing the niqab and the burqa, which has already resulted in one woman being fined 1,000 kroner (around £120).
He said he objected to a total ban because it played into the hands of those who wanted to “fan the flames of grievance” and promote the idea of a clash of civilisations.
Of course, that was definitely not what Johnson was doing when he went on to say that women wearing niqabs or burqas looked like bank robbers. Or all the times he has been in contact with Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon, who expounds a clash of civilisations theory and actually wrote the script of an Islamophobic movie. Or the time he spearheaded a Brexit campaign which capitalised on the (untrue) idea that Turkey was about to join the EU.
Here’s another theory for why Boris Johnson is against banning the burqa – what would he have to stir up controversy about?