The UK government makes a humiliating move for Boris Johnson, before he’s even stepped into No 10

Boris Johnson
Tracy Keeling

The UK government has made a humiliating announcement for Boris Johnson on the same day he became Conservative leader and the next PM. Its new adviser to “tackle Islamophobia” is Imam Qari Asim MBE. That’s the same Imam who called out Johnson for “fanning the flames of Islamophobia” with his outrageous comments on Muslim women.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government appointed Asim. That department is led by none other than Johnson-backer James Brokenshire. So the new PM just effectively got humiliated by one of his own allies.

“A compelling message”

In June, when Brokenshire announced his support for Johnson as PM, he argued that the MP has the:

character, the ingenuity, the resilience and an ability to convey a compelling message

Of course, Johnson bared his ‘character’ in 2018 when he wrote in a Telegraph column that Muslim women who wear burqas look like “letter boxes” and ‘bank robbers’. That was neither the first nor the last time that Johnson has conveyed a ‘message’ that contained racism, bigotry, homophobia, sexism and more.

His comments about Muslim women had consequences. As Labour’s women and equalities secretary Dawn Butler said:

After his comparison between Muslim women and ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’ was directly linked to a rise in hate crime targeting Muslim women, there can be no doubt that his words put marginalised people in our country at risk.

Empowering thugs

Butler also warned Johnson’s comments would “embolden the Islamophobes” in his party. Asim echoed these concerns at the time in his response to Johnson’s characterisations. Asim said:

They are absolutely demonising, misogynistic, hurtful comments and they are fanning the flames of Islamophobia. As a result, the thugs who are already snatching the headscarves of Muslim women will feel empowered that someone who is part of the establishment, who has been our foreign secretary, is giving them licence.

In his new position as independent adviser, Asim will have his work cut out for him. He’s specifically tasked with working on developing an official definition of Islamophobia – under a party of government rife with the prejudice. In fact, 56% of Conservative members see Islam as a ‘threat to the British way of life’, according to a recent Channel 4 poll.

It’s not just the membership, though. As Johnson’s comments show, racism in the party goes right to the very top.

Featured image via YouTube – CBS

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. i still think you over-estimate Boris Johnson. I come from a not totally dissimilar background to his, and I can recall, as a child – a long time ago now – indulging in casually racist jokes at school. nowadays, I cringe, when I remember them.

      Fortunately, I had parents who had a very different outlook, and I grew up. Boris Johnson has never grown up. He still lives in that world of casual humour, with no sense of consequence.

      And that lies at the nub of it: he is not actually malicious, just very stupid. He has a small degree of intellectual cleverness – coloured by knowing quite a lot, even if he understands very little of what he has learnt. However, he has no emotional intelligence, and certainly no empathy. He’s like the eight-year-old who silences a dinner party with some dreadful joke, and has never noticed the silence, or learnt healthy shame.

      There is hope. As Mayor of London he could get away with things by making making a lot of blather and then leaving other people to sort out the mess. As Foreign secretary there was no-one to sort out the mess, and it’s noticeable how quickly he got shackled and then moved on. As prime minister, he has nothing, and no-one to hide behind. We saw what happened when May started blaming her own MPs for her mess. People might find him funny when he’s having a go at someone else; not once he starts his scatter gun attacks on members of his own party. And he will; he can’t help himself.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.