British MP demands Johnson apology for Muslim women ‘letterbox’ comments

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi called on Johnson to launch an investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative party. (AFP)
Updated 04 September 2019

British MP demands Johnson apology for Muslim women ‘letterbox’ comments

  • Johnson said last year it was ridiculous that women should resemble bank robbers or letter boxes
  • Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said the use of such language had led to spike in hate crime

LONDON: A British MP demanded Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologize for “derogatory and racist” remarks he made about Muslim women who chose to cover their faces in public.

The new British leader wrote a column last year in which he said it was ridiculous that women should resemble bank robbers or letter boxes. 

But in a strongly-worded speech in parliament Wednesday, Labour Party’s Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said the use of such language had led to a “spike in hate crime.”

“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,” said the Sikh MP.

“Rather than hide behind sham and whitewash investigations, when will the prime minister finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks?”

His comments were met with loud applause and cheers from the opposition benches.

Johnson again refused to apologize for the comments and defended the article.

“If the right honourable gentleman took the trouble to read the article in question, he would see it was a strong liberal defence of everybody’s right to wear whatever they want in this country.

“And I speak as somebody who is not only proud to have Muslim ancestors but to be related to Sikhs such as himself.”

This week, anti-racism group Tell MAMA said there had been a 375 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents from the week before Mr Johnson made the comments in August 2018 to the week after.


US moves troops, tanks into Lithuania in message to Russia

Updated 1 min 18 sec ago

US moves troops, tanks into Lithuania in message to Russia

  • Dozens of Abrams tanks and Bradley armored vehicles arrived by railway at the army training area in Pabrade
  • The alliance has previously installed similar battalions in Poland and Baltic states Estonia and Latvia as tripwires against possible Russian adventurism in the region

VILNIUS: The United States on Monday began deploying a battalion of troops and dozens of tanks to Lithuania for an unprecedented six-month rotation, a move sought by the Baltic EU and NATO state to deter neighboring Russia.
Dozens of Abrams tanks and Bradley armored vehicles arrived by railway at the army training area in Pabrade.
Lithuania’s Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said the deployment of some 500 US troops scheduled to stay through the winter proves that a US military presence on NATO’s eastern flank “is no longer a taboo.”
“First and foremost, it is a message to Lithuania and neighboring NATO states that allies are together with us,” the minister told AFP.
“And it is also a message to Russia that the US is engaged, and it is an additional deterrence element,” he added.
Ben Hodges, the former commander of US Army forces in Europe, said the US deployment was a “manifestation of American commitment to continued deterrence along NATO’s eastern flank,” at the time when US was pulling American troops out of Syria and abandoning its Kurdish allies.
“Nobody, including the Russians, should be confused by the Americans’ commitment to NATO despite what was I think a mistake of pulling out of Syria,” Hodges told AFP via telephone.
Two years ago, NATO deployed a German-led multinational battalion of around 1,000 troops to Lithuania, an EU and NATO nation of 2,8 million people.
The alliance installed similar battalions in Poland and Baltic states Estonia and Latvia as tripwires against possible Russian adventurism in the region after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
The entire region had been dominated by the Soviet Union for more than 40 years after World War II.