New Delhi: Members of United Kingdom's House of Commons clapped and cheered when a Labour Party MP on Wednesday demanded an apology from Prime Minister Boris Johnson for comparing burqa-wearing Muslim women to robbers and letter boxes.
Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi was referring to an article written by Johnson in 'The Daily Telegraph' last year.
Addressing the PM, Dhesi said Johnson's remarks had hurt the sentiments of vulnerable Muslim women.
"For those of us who from a young age have had to endure and face up to being called names such as towel-head, or Taliban, or coming from bongo-bongo land, we can fully appreciate the hurt and pain of already vulnerable Muslim women when they are described as looking like bank robbers and letterboxes," he said.
Monitoring group Tell MAMA [Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks] had unveiled research earlier this week which claimed that Islamophobic incidents rose by 375 per cent in the week after Johnson's references to the burqa as "oppressive" in the newspaper column.
“When will the Prime Minister finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks which have led to a spike in hate crime?" Dhesi asked. “If I decide to wear a turban, or if someone decides to wear a cross or a hijab, it doesn't mean that it is an open season for people in this House to make derogatory and decisive remarks."
If you have ever experienced racism or discrimination, you can appreciate full well the hurt and pain felt by Muslim women, who were singled out by this divisive Prime Minister. It’s high time he apologised for his derogatory and racist remarks! 1/2 pic.twitter.com/t6G56coA3U— Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (@TanDhesi) September 4, 2019
Dhesi also asked when the government, led by Johnson, would order an inquiry into growing Islamophobia within the Conservative party, which is something "he (Johnson) and his Chancellor promised on national television".
Johnson responded by claiming that Dhesi had failed to read his newspaper article within its complete context, which was in fact a strong liberal defence of everybody's right to wear whatever they want.
Johnson added that the current government has the most diverse Cabinet in the history of UK.
“And I speak as somebody who is not only proud to have Muslim ancestors… but to be related to Sikhs such as himself. And I’m also proud to say that under this government we have the most diverse cabinet in the history of this country and we truly reflect modern Britain,” said Johnson.
Today was the first time Johnson took questions in the parliament since becoming the PM. The parliament is currently debating and voting on a bill to avoid a "no-deal Brexit", which will further delay Britain's departure from the European Union by three months.