Much to the delight of everyone, not least himself, Boris has put his foot in it again. His glib comments opposing the Danish burqa ban have caused offence and created a media storm in a teacup.
Although none appear to have come forward to express their outrage, his (mildly) offensive comments about letter boxes and bank robbers may well have upset some (very sensitive) women who choose to voluntarily wear the burqa. This hardly matters, of course, because politicians of all parties and persuasions have rushed to defend their absolute right in a liberal society to dress as they please.
But in all the outrage, the claims of Islamophobia and the calls for Boris to apologise we seem to have lost sight of the real issue. The burqa is not as ridiculous as Boris claims in his Telegraph column.
Anyone who has visited Afghanistan, as Boris and I both have, will know the burqa is a symbol of the appalling injustice and oppression inflicted on women in that country and elsewhere. It is inconceivable that anyone in the UK (or Denmark) who chooses to wear the burqa of their own free will does so in ignorance of this incontrovertible fact. And that’s why Boris is right to rebuke them (however mildly).
I have risked my life in the defence of liberty and would willingly do so again. I will defend your right to freely express yourself, however distasteful I might find your views. But in return, I demand the right to question the motives of anyone who chooses to wear symbols of oppression or discrimination.
Swastikas or burqas, they’re equally repugnant to me.