Tell MAMA has said that there was a 375 per cent increase in Islamophobic attacks the week after Boris Johnson wrote a column in the Telegraph comparing Muslim women to letterboxes and bank robbers.
According to the monitoring group’s annual report, a week after the then foreign secretary, now prime minister’s column was published in August 2018, 38 anti-Muslim incidents occurred, 22 involving veiled women or women wearing the niqab.
Recorded incidents referred to Johnson’s article: “Between August 5 and August 29, 42% of the street-based incidents reported to Tell MAMA directly referenced Boris Johnson and/or the language used in his column.”
After Johnson said it was “oppressive” and “ridiculous” that people chose to wear veils, he faced widespread backlash including from the Muslim Council of Britain who accused him of “pandering to the far right.”
At the time Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum Mohammed Amin warned the column would “whip up hatred of women who wear the niqab and burqa.”
The imam of Finsbury Park Mosque Mohammed Mahmoud said the government had not shown “meaningful engagement” with the Muslim community.
Johnson, who was foreign secretary at the time, was reported to the Equalities Commission but was later cleared of breaking the Tory party’s code of conduct.
It was not Johnson’s first accusation of anti-Muslim sentiment. In 2005 he wrote that Islamophobia seems a “natural reaction” to the Qur’an and that “the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem” in response to the London tube bombings.
Also last year former Conservative co-chair Baroness Warsi warned that Islamophobia was “widespread” and goes “right to the top” of the party but is ignored for electoral reasons.
A poll conducted this year for Hope Not Hate by YouGov revealed that 60 per cent of Tories believe Islam is “generally a threat to western civilisation.”