British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a qualifying apology for the offense caused by his past remarks on Islam, speaking in a report critical of his Conservative Party that examined discrimination, including complaints of Islamophobia.
Johnson was interviewed for the report, commissioned by the ruling Tories in response to criticism of how he handled discrimination and complaints. The report was produced independently by Professor Swaran Singh, who served as commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
He cited several examples related to Johnson, including a 2018 newspaper column in which he called women wearing burqas ‘walking around like letterboxes’ and likened their appearance to bank robbers.
Johnson defended the article as a liberal defense of a Muslim woman’s right to choose what to wear.
“I know things that I said were offended, that people expect someone in my position to do it right, but in journalism you have to use the language freely. I am obviously sorry for any offense committed, ”Johnson quoted as saying.
“Would I use some of the offensive terms from my past writing today? Now that I’m Prime Minister, I wouldn’t. “
Singh said the party had not been active enough to challenge discrimination, that its complaints procedure needed to be overhauled, and that its system of sanctions for those who broke the rules was unclear.
“Judging by the scale of complaints and findings of misconduct by the Party itself which relate to anti-Muslim speech and behavior, anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the Party,” according to the officials. conclusions of the report.
The Conservative Party has said it is reviewing the report’s recommendations.
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.