Boris doesn’t help by going on about burqas

PUBLISHED: 11:55 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:04 08 August 2018

Boris Johnson who has come out against calls to ban face-covering garments like the burka in public places. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Boris Johnson who has come out against calls to ban face-covering garments like the burka in public places. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Boris Johnson said women in burqas and niqabs look like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’. But what about how he looks, asks Liz Nice

Boris Johnson is in trouble again for saying in his weekly newspaper column that women who wear burqas and niqabs look like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’. Quite why he, sartorial shambles that he is, feels qualified to comment on any woman’s appearance, or indeed any person’s, is of interest in itself.

But then, I suppose, we all do it – take one look at a person and make up our minds.

I remember a friend of mine taking her nine-year-old son to London to see an orchestral performance designed to encourage young children from

ethnic minorities to take up music. He spotted a woman in a burqa for the first time and shouted out loudly, ‘Look, Mummy, it’s a ninja!’

Was he being racist? Some would say so (his mother was certainly mortified) but then to that little boy, who like every other nine-year-old lad I know

believes being a ninja to be the ultimate career ambition, what he was really saying was, ‘That woman is just about the coolest person I have ever seen’.

This is the minefield we all walk and I’m far from confident in it myself. I see women covering themselves up from head to toe and think, what is that

saying about men? That they can’t control themselves unless you hide your body? Isn’t that insulting to an entire gender?

But then I see a young woman with her bum hanging out and her boobs toppling out of her dress like apples in a thunderstorm and I think, ‘For heaven’s sake, cover yourself up, love, and have a bit more self respect.’

I’m not really helping here, am I? But perhaps what Boris was trying to do in his Daily Telegraph column was to help.

Help start a debate about western attitudes to Islam? It certainly got Labour MP David Lammy going – he called Boris a ‘pound shop Donald Trump’ and accused him of fanning the flames of Islamophobia so that’s one tick.

Perhaps Boris wanted to help highlight what he perceived to be the oppression of women by certain faiths – and let’s be honest, most faiths have downgraded women to second place at some point in their history, however they might endeavour to paper over it now.

But most likely, being Boris, he was probably trying to help himself, because criticising the symbolism of Islam positions him very nicely alongside those in his party who feel suspicious of difference, therefore placing him, potentially, as a more palatable leader of that group among the

Conservatives than a certain Mr Rees Mogg.

And just in case anyone found what he said to be too offensive, Boris softened it by making clear that despite his dislike of the burqa – he noted that, like Jack Straw, he would ask a woman to remove hers if she came to one of his surgeries so that he could ‘talk to her properly’ - he

did not agree that Denmark had done the right thing by banning full-face veils completely, thus hopefully bringing on side those

in the party who might be less comfortable with such strident statements about the adornments some choose in the practice of their faith.

By using such a wide brush stroke however, he has probably just ended up offending everybody, which he is wont to do.

Either way, his comments aren’t a good look...

And speaking of looks, my sons are currently sporting bright red hair (son who is usually blonde) and blue hair (son who is usually brown haired).

They certainly cheer the place up and are thrilled with their new hair, yet, if they went to school looking this way, they would

probably be told to go home.

Why is this? Schools have always been fanatical about hair colour and any kind of difference,

while I love to see the way their faces light up at the opportunity for a bit of self expression.

I understand all the arguments about making all children look the same so that no one stands out for negative reasons such as not having enough money to buy the right trainers or whatever.

But quite frankly, I think every child should be encouraged to stand out in any way they choose, as long as they hurt no-one - and who does hair colour hurt?

It’s not as if the teachers aren’t dyeing their hair, is it? And if they’re not, everyone moans that they’re past it.

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