By Muhammad Mussa
LONDON (AA) – Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is to face an investigation over breaches of the Conservative Party code of conduct following his Islamophobic comments regarding the niqab.
The investigation, to be carried out by an independent panel led by a lawyer, will represent the first step in disciplinary action that has been called for by a number of Tory MPs and independent organizations.
Sources within the Tory party told local media that they had received a number of complaints from MPs and the public after Johnson, in a newspaper op-ed, compared Muslim women who wear the niqab to bank robbers and letterboxes.
Under the Conservative Party’s code of conduct, MPs and individuals who hold a position in public office should “not use their position to bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others” and should instead “foster and respect tolerance.”
Tory MEP Sajjad Karim told the Guardian: “The Conservative Party today has to decide whether it will be a genuine one-nation political force or an English nationalist movement. In the latter there is no room for diversity and that is where Boris, [former far-right UKIP leader Nigel] Farage and others are dragging the party”.
Karim also added that by refusing to apologize, Johnson is “positioning himself as the great defender of the right some believe they have to say whatever they like with no regard of consequences for others.”
The former foreign secretary has refused to apologize for the inflammatory and derogatory comments he made despite calls from within his party to do so.
Party Chairman Brandon Lewis and Prime Minister Theresa May have both criticized Johnson for his remarks and have urged him to apologize.
Muslim advocacy groups Tell Mama and the Muslim Council of Britain, among many others, have called on the Conservative Party to urgently address the issue of Islamophobia among its leadership and members following Johnson’s controversial article.