Anti-racists held a lively picket outside Tory MP Boris Johnson’s office in west London on Thursday. It came as the Tories were forced to announce an investigation into Johnson’s Islamophobic article about Muslim women.
Chants of “Ban Boris, not the burqa” and “My dress, my choice” rang outside the Uxbridge office. Johnson had written in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that women who wear the burqa look like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”
Azmat Parveen had travelled from Ealing to protest for her right to choose to wear the burqa. She told Socialist Worker the comments were “painful” because “the public vote him in and he’s treating them like this”.
“We have rights, but he shows no respect,” she said. “And that why’s we’ve made the long journey to come here.”
A few local residents angry at their local MP Johnson joined the picket organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR).
Sam from Uxbridge told Socialist Worker that Johnson’s article was designed to “keep him in the limelight and get him to be prime minister”.
“I think he should lose the whip,” she said. “He’s no business being in the House of Commons.”
Although Theresa May has been forced to announce an investigation, Johnson’s comments are no fringe belief within the Tory party. They come from the Tory government’s Islamophobic policies—which May has been at the forefront of pushing through.
Sam said, “Jeremy Corbyn is labelled as antisemitic when he’s against the terrible things Israel is doing to the Palestinians.
“Boris Johnson has come out with some hideously racist, nasty, defamatory comments, but everyone just thinks it’s because he’s a bumbling fool, a joke or a laugh.
“I don’t think he’s a bumbling fool, a joke or a laugh. I think he’s an evil corrupt man.”
Johnson’s comments will fuel racist attacks on Muslims and give further confidence to the resurgent British far right. Azmat said, “I’ve had many experiences of Islamophobia, but I always face it bravely.
“Sometimes people tar me as a terrorist, sometimes when I enter a bus or train people say maybe there’s a bomb inside me.
She added, “This is going to extend and extend—we have to have action.”
Supporters of the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) racist street movement gathered on the opposite side of the road. At first they claimed that they had nothing to do with Nazi Tommy Robinson.
By the end they were chanting Robinson’s name
And, most worryingly, a few local residents came out to join them. This shows how Johnson hasn’t just boosted the far right, but helped to normalise racist ideas by pushing them into the mainstream.
Anti-racists have to build opposition to the fascists and racists—and against the politicians who fuel their rise.