Published: Sun, August 12, 2018

Rowan Atkinson defends Boris Johnson over burka comments

Rowan Atkinson defends Boris Johnson over burka comments

Comedian Rowan Atkinson has defended Boris Johnson's joke about burqa-wearers resembling letterboxes.

The Conservative headquarters have launched an inquiry into whether his comments breached their code of conduct.

Some things are as certain as night following day or Jeff Stelling getting over-excited about a fairly innocuous footballing incident - and sure enough, Boris Johnson sparked outrage this week.

Johnson's comments were criticized by Muslim groups and politicians including Prime Minister Theresa May, who urged Johnson to apologize. He said he opposed banning burqas and other face-covering garments worn by some Muslim women, but referred to a woman wearing the attire as "looking like a bank robber". "On that basis, no apology is required", he added.

The remarks faced harsh criticism, and he was asked by Conservative party chairman, Brandon Lewis, to apologise.

But Mrs May, amid calls from Tory peer Lord Sheikh for Mr Johnson to be removed from the party, has insisted Mr Johnson apologise, saying his remarks "clearly caused offence".

'You should really only apologise for a bad joke.

The party's code of conduct states that Tory officials and elected representatives must "lead by example to encourage and foster respect and tolerance" and not "use their position to bully, abuse, victimize, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others". 'Completely entitled to say it'Jacob Rees-Mogg, Tory MP for North East Somerset " He's completely entitled to say it and there's nothing to apologise for", Mr Rees-Mogg told Nigel Farage on LBC.

"The code of conduct process is strictly confidential", a Conservative party spokesperson said, refusing to elaborate on the procedure.

"The burka and niqab are disgusting tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim".

The women also stressed that "contrary to what you may have been told by sections of the media and columnists who profess to know what is best for us", Muslim women are not forced to wear the niqab or burqa, nor are they oppressed.

Defending Mr Johnson on BBC's Newsnight programme, Tory colleague and fellow MP Andrew Mitchell said: "We believe in free speech in this country; and free speech, by definition, includes the fact that some people will be offended by what we say".

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, he added: "Just because we find something distasteful doesn't mean it's either illegal or it shouldn't happen".

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