Muslim slams Boris Johnson on Question Time for ‘letterbox’ remarks

A member of the Question Time audience criticises Boris Johnson's remarks about Muslims. Photograph:

A member of the Question Time audience criticises Boris Johnson's remarks about Muslims. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

A Question Time audience member has slammed Boris Johnson for his comments about Muslims after she claimed her mother is too scared to go out in a burqa because of it.

The teacher told the BBC panel programme that the prime minister had "incited racial hatred" with his comments, and criticised him for refusing to apologise for what he had said.

She said Johnson's remarks went against the British values she was expected to deliver to her students.

She asked the panel: "How is comparing a woman in a burqa to a letterbox showing strong leadership? I am a teacher of politics and I couldn't justify that to my class.

"If I'm teaching kids about tolerance of different faiths and mutual respect - that goes against our British values.

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To some applause she asked: "Why do we have a prime minister in power who goes against our values?

"He has not yet apologised for those comments that he made. It doesn't matter how he was going to shape them, it was wrong for him to say. It has led to an increase in race hate crime against women in burqas.

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"The fact that my mother used to wear a burqa and she stopped wearing it because she feels unsafe, and as woman who wears a hijab, and my sister who has been attacked because she was wearing a hijhab, I don't like the fact we are supporting a prime minister who incites hatred."

Responding to the teacher, Conservative MP Paul Scully said he would not have chosen to use the words "letterbox". But he said that the prime minister had actually made a "liberal" argument in favour of people wearing the burqa.

He disputed claims that it had led to a rise in hate crime, despite this Tell MAMA statistic showing a 375% increase in anti-Muslim incidents within days of the remarks.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, also on the Question Time panel, responded to Scully's remarks.

She said: "So are they wrong to be offended? I think it's perfectly fair to feel offended by those words, I think they have a right to be offended. Unbelieveable."

Social media reacted with praise for the audience member - and noted the split in the audience over the comments.

Gayle Letherby wrote: "The audience reaction is interesting and distressing; those who sit stony faced with their hands in their laps. Sad. Frighting [sic]."

Judy Wright tweeted: "The most disappointing but perhaps predictable part of this was the number in the audience who didn't applaud her. Have a look and make your own judgement as to the make up of the audience."

User @michaelmike91 posted: "When the camera pulls away it's telling those that are applauding and those that are sitting stoney faced!"

Allan Bolingoli responded: "Look at the people in the clip who are not clapping, scary!"

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