We do really live in a time of paradoxes. The whole Boris Johnson row over the burka reveals that we live in a society that looks at the finger rather than at the moon, and that is undeniable when an article titled “Denmark has got it wrong. Yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous – but that’s still no reason to ban it” leads to a mediatic prosecution for Islamophobia.
As correctly stated on The Spectator by Qanta Ahmed, “when Boris Johnson mocks the niqab, he is emphatically not mocking Muslim women because – and this is a point that we Muslims seem to be unable to get across to non-Muslims – there is no basis in Islam for the niqab.”
Countries with ‘liberal’ governments in continental Europe has banned or made comments against full veils. Angela Merkel endorsed a burka ban “wherever legally possible”; the former socialist President of France, François Hollande, pledged not to overturn the ban introduced by Sarkozy; the Dutch Cabinet of the liberal PM Mark Rutte, introduced a partial ban in 2015. Nearby in Belgium, the Parliament voted unanimously on the ban in public places, a prohibition that has not been overturned by the following socialists and liberal governments of Elio Di Rupo and Charles Michel and that has been upheld even by the European Court of Human Rights. Likewise, countries with a major Muslim population such as Egypt, considered a ban. Kosovo introduced one in 2009, Syria in 2010.
The difference with Boris Johnson’s comment? All these impositions were made in a very polite and institutional manner. For the Pharisees of political correctness, who says what and how he says it is more important than what he says. Hence, Boris’ comparison of a piece of clothing to a letterbox, served to his enemies a vendetta on a silver platter following his resignation from the government. The extremists of moderatism queued, torch in hand, foretasting a mediatic lynching, hitting on Boris for an unlucky comparison while in his article he defended women’s freedom to dress as they please and the need for the State to defend religious liberty and not interfere in people’s private life. When Hollande, Valls, Merkel and the rest in the liberal Pantheon of continental Europe were banning the burka, threatening freedom and launching crusades on the burkini, they were silent.
Boris is offering himself in sacrifice, probably following his guts and a risky political evaluation, on the altar of freedom of speech. Don’t get misled by the ones accusing him: the ones in our own party are doing so to get rid of him and persuade themselves of the strength of Theresa May’s leadership and of the concealed quality of the Chequers deal.
Those in opposition will just jump on the bandwagon of political correctness, offended by anyone who would like to open a debate on their self-imposed dogmas, revealing that the only one intervening in this discussion who is actually concerned about freedom, religious, of speech and of women, is actually Boris himself.