By Muhammad Mussa
LONDON (AA) – 100 Muslim women who wear the niqab or burqa have written to Brandon Lewis, chairman of the Conservative Party, demanding that Boris Johnson be kicked out of the party.
The letter, revealed by Sky News, says that an apology by the former foreign secretary would be insufficient and that more should be done to prevent others in the party from following suit.
“We speak as free women who are able to speak for ourselves and make our own choices,” the signers said.
“Our decision to wear the niqab or burqa is not an easy one, especially given the hate that many of us experience on a regular basis. Nevertheless we do so because we believe it is a means to get closer to God,” it added.
The women also stressed that “contrary to what you may have been told by sections of the media and columnists who profess to know what is best for us,” Muslim women are not forced to wear the niqab or burqa, nor are they oppressed.
The letter also said that Johnson’s choice of Islamophobic words was deliberate and “was made to inflame tensions in a way that makes it easier for bigots to justify hate crime against us,” adding further support to Tory peer Lord Sheik’s request that Johnson lose the party whip, meaning he would no longer represent the party.
The women said that although their rights as “equal citizens” may be debated in society, the vile language used by Johnson has lasting consequences and is never acceptable.
The letter mentioned the women’s willingness to speak to members of parliament to share their experiences of what it is like for a Muslim woman to wear the niqab or burqa and debunk the lies that have been spread about them.
Johnson came under fire after writing a newspaper op-ed comparing Muslim women who wear the niqab to bank robbers and letterboxes.
He now faces an investigation by an independent panel that his comments breached the Tory party’s code of conduct.
Senior figures such as Chairman Lewis and Prime Minister Theresa May have called on Johnson to apologize, and Muslim advocacy groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain have called for more action to be taken against Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.