The former foreign secretary used his weekly newspaper column in The Sunday Telegraph to launch a vicious diatribe against Muslim women who wear the burqa.
“It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes,” he wrote.
He went on to attack young women turning “up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber.”He likened a state ban on the burqa to “a parent confronted by a rebellious teenager”.
And he said his only reason for not calling for a ban is it would be “construed—rightly or wrongly—as being intended to make some point about Islam.”
As if he wasn’t making a racist point about Islam—or hasn’t done so previously. In 2005 he even wrote, “The problem is Islam. Islam is the problem.”
Fiyaz Mughal from the Islamophobia monitoring group Tell Mama slammed Johnson’s comments as “clearly” Islamophobic. Many pundits focused on Johnson’s disgusting comments as a calculated attempt to position himself in the ongoing battle for the Tory leadership.
Labour MP David Lammy attacked Johnson as a “pound-shop Donald Trump fanning the flames of Islamophobia to propel his grubby electoral ambitions”.
And former Tory party chair Baroness Warsi argued Johnson was using Muslim women as “a convenient political football to increase poll ratings among the Tory faithful”.
It’s true that Johnson is jostling for position—and Theresa May knows it. But the war of position inside the Tory party is not the full story. As home secretary and prime minister, May has been at the forefront of pushing through Islamophobia.
The Tories have pushed state-sponsored Islamophobia to paint Muslims as the enemy within to justify imperialist wars in the Middle East. Attacks like Johnson’s are also part of a broader appeal by the Tory Party to racists.
Fascists and racists have already grown in confidence in the last year.
If Johnson and others are allowed to preach this bile from the mainstream press, they will further boost the far right.
We saw just one example of what an emboldened far right means last Saturday when Bookmarks bookshop was attacked.
And following Nazi Tommy Robinson’s release from prison, more fascist mobilisations are likely.
Outrage is the right reaction to Johnson’s racist filth. That outrage needs to be turned into action that can stem the rise of the far right.
And we need a mass movement against the racism from politicians and the press.