Conservatives to investigate Boris Johnson’s burqa comments

Boris Johnson burka row

Adding: "As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson's joke about wearers of the burka resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one". This time it was the result of an article he wrote, comparing women who wear the burqa to "bank robbers" and "letter boxes".

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".

Following complaints and his refusal to apologise, he now faces an inquiry into whether he broke his Conservative party's code of conduct.

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

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

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

The TV funnyman spent years campaigning against legislation that eventually became the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, making it an offence to incite religious hatred.

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He explained there was a complaints procedure within the Conservative Party and that the Party had a mechanism for dealing with these issues.

He wrote: 'If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you.

"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".

Condemnation of the comments also came from the Chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council Jonathan Goldstein, who took to Twitter, posting: "Boris Johnson's comments totally disgraceful".

Johnson's comments were criticised by Muslim groups and politicians including Prime Minister Theresa May, who urged Johnson to apologise.

But the former Cabinet minister, who is holidaying overseas, has made no response to demands for an apology.

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".

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