Rowan Atkinson Defends Boris Johnson Burqa Joke

Boris Johnson who is on holiday abroad has not responded to calls to apologise

The internal Tory process looking at Mr Johnson's comparison of Muslim women in face coverings with "bank robbers" or "letter boxes" was automatically triggered on Thursday after party headquarters received several complaints.

Johnson compared women wearing the veil with bank robbers or letter boxes in an article for the right-leaning Daily Telegraph.

The founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Lord Sheikh, has written to Lewis demanding "serious action", while former attorney general Dominic Grieve said he would quit the party if Johnson became prime minister.

The Blackadder and Mr Bean star Atkinson said the former Foreign Secretary's comments were amusing.

Under the Conservative Party's new code of conduct, when a formal complaint is made, the party have to investigate it.

And he added: "All jokes about religion cause offence, so it's pointless apologising for them".

'You should really only apologise for a bad joke. "On that basis, no apology is required", he wrote, in a letter to the Times.

"The burka and niqab are disgusting tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim".

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Mr Johnson has also won the support of Tory former chief whip Andrew Mitchell, who said the Uxbridge MP had used "colourful" language but had not committed an offence.

He added that Theresa May was "clearly wrong to have asked him to have apologised".

One backbencher told The Independent the handling of the affair by Ms May and other party leaders had been so poor that it has increased the chances of a leadership challenge over the summer.

Brentwood MP Alex Burghart said: "I don't think we should be the sort of country where women can be forced to cover their faces - just as we shouldn't be the sort of country that passes laws telling women what they can't wear in public".

It's not the first time Atkinson has got involved in controversy around free speech.

I was told that they often anxious about going out in public places - especially after terrorist attacks because they in turn feared being attacked.

"I think it's a very dark day for our democracy and free speech and I'm deeply anxious that this policy is being adopted by the Conservative Party, if we're not the party of free speech, then who is?"

'Full bandwagon jumping territory'Conor Burns, Tory MP for Bournemouth West'It's bash Boris'Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire " This [inquiry is] being use to try and discredit Boris Johnson from people who are anxious about him in inside the Conservative party and outside the Conservative party.

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