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