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Boris Johnson defended by Rowan Atkinson in burka row

12 August 2018

Former British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, will face an investigation following Islamophobic comments about Muslim women who wear the face veil, according to a report by the Evening Standard newspaper.

In a newspaper article on Monday, Johnson had opposed a complete ban on Islamic clothing in line with the recent burqa ban in Denmark, but said that "it was absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes".

Comedian Rowan Atkinson, best known for his roles in Blackadder, Mr. Bean and Johnny English, has defended Johnson.

The Conservative party's website says suspension of membership or expulsion from the party are among the ultimate options open to its board on conclusion of a code of conduct investigation.

He called it an "almost ideal visual simile" and added that is was a joke that, whether Mr Johnson apologises for it or not, "will stay in the public consciousness for some time to come".

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"You should really only apologize for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required", he added.

"The burka and niqab are ugly tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim". If this goes ahead, one Tory MP told The Times it would result in "civil war" in the party. "That is why people are asking him to apologise".

"We are not bound by collective responsibility or that type of discipline and it is the wrong approach to party discipline".

Senior Tory figures told The Daily Telegraph that they do not expect Mr Johnson to be suspended or have the whip withdrawn.

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

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Mr Mitchell, who was chief whip in 2012 and worldwide development secretary before that, told BBC Two's Newsnight: "I don't think he should apologise".

"This is quite an important issue about free speech and it's got nothing to do with the awful events that take place over Enoch Powell and the Rivers of Blood speech".

These dehumanising comments about a group of fellow citizens already subject to abuse and fear have already done the job since he appears to have increased support from some sections of the Tory party - so well done him.

Johnson's remarks have come under severe criticism, with some branding them as a sign Islamophobia in the UK's ruling Conservative party.

He added: "But let's look at what Boris said: he expressed himself in quite colourful language".

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"I just think that we have a huge problem with Labour's anti-Semitism so it's easy to find something on the other side they can use as a lever against problems they have got".

Boris Johnson defended by Rowan Atkinson in burka row