Boris Johnson told by Tory chair to apologise for burka comments

Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

Naz Shah has written to International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who is also Women and Equalities Minister, and Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis over Mr Johnson's comments.

While agreeing with Mr Johnson that the burka should not be banned, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I would never have made such a comment, I think there is a degree of offence in that, absolutely right".

Mr Lammy added: "Muslim women are having their burkas pulled off by thugs in our streets and Boris Johnson's response is to mock them for "looking like letter boxes".

Mr Johnson also faced criticism from one of his former Foreign Office deputies for his "offensive" comments.

The Board of Deputies tweeted: "Solidarity with the Muslim community over rising anti-Muslim incidents".

He said: "Boris isn't stupid, this wasn't an off-the-cuff comment after a glass of wine, this was an article that he sat down and wrote for The Daily Telegraph".

Warsi said Johnson was hoping to attract support from right-wing Conservatives for an eventual leadership bid, and called for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party.

Mr Johnson admitted he had received a "kick in the pants" from Mr Howard and promised to go to the city in a "spirit of complete humility".

After a meeting with the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, May told reporters: "I am very clear and the government is very clear about our position on the issue of the burka, which is that women should be able to choose how to dress".

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"It is Islamophobia and I think it's pretty outrageous".

In a column in Monday's Daily Telegraph newspaper, Johnson said women wearing the full face veil looked like "bank robbers" or "letter-boxes", prompting accusations of Islamophobia.

The same piece said the city had made scapegoats of the police in the Hillsborough disaster while refusing to acknowledge the part played by "drunken" fans "mindlessly" trying to fight their way in - comments which caused outrage in the city. "It's now 24 hours have gone by, the message that members of the Muslim community get is that their concerns are not taken into account".

He suggested to the BBC that the reaction to the column "says a lot about internal Conservative Party politics".

Johnson has been in direct communication with Bannon in recent months, according to media reports.

"It is crass and it must stop, and it must be condemned by the leadership right from the Prime Minister down".

Illustrative photo of Muslim women wearing burqas.

Denmark introduced a burka ban last week, with fines of about 1,000 krone (US$155), following similar moves in France, Austria and Belgium.

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