Press Release

“Boris – Don’t play politics with the Niqab”

Many Muslims across Greater Manchester and beyond are very disappointed with Boris Johnson MP who in a recent newspaper article ridiculed and demeaned women for wearing the niqab describing them as “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”. Many have also questioned the newspaper decision to publish such a provocatively written article.

We remind Mr Johnson that it is not for politicians or newspaper editors to dictate to women over the choices they make to wear the niqab or not. We also remind Mr Johnson that while he is entitled to raise issues which concern him, he should not stray into making grossly offensive and provocative comments.

We remind Mr Johnson that when powerful leading figures seek to offend powerless minorities groups, this can lead to further discrimination and hate against such groups in this case women who wear the niqab. Mr Johnson should know that Islamophobia is on the rise and has been for some time and sadly it is Muslim women and children who bear the brunt of this bigotry and hate – not just in word but in violent actions too.

What surprises many Muslims is that Mr Johnson’s article was also very critical of the Danish Government criminalisation and banning of the niqab. We fully support Mr Johnson’s criticism of the Danish government.

What also saddens many Muslims is that although the number of women wearing the niqab is very small, it is surprising how much time, effort and vitriol is exerted by some on this matter.

What is also very odd about Mr Johnson’s article is its timing. When there is huge debate about anti-Semitic comments made by Labour Party members, many would have thought that Mr Johnson would have been more in tune with the current climate and issues affecting our other diverse communities and faith practitioners rather than add to their daily stigma and demonisation.

It is for these reasons we consider that Mr Johnson’s comments are unacceptable in modern Britain and Islamophobic and as such his resignation would be in order – it appears he is out of touch with the people and the very British values he should be representing.

We also hope to finally see an independent enquiry on Islamophobia in all our parties.

7th August 2018

This statement is issued by the following organisations:

Manchester Council of Mosques: MCOM

MCOM represent over 70 mosques in Manchester with a combined congregation of over 80,000 people. MCOM aims to work for Manchester and beyond to be a great place to worship, live, work and prosper in. MCOM regularly issues statements and press releases to mosques and the wider society to build a just and harmonious society.

Stockport Muslims

Stockport Muslims are Muslims from the suburbs of Greater Manchester that work with all communities in developing mutual understanding and social cohesion. Stockport Muslims are committed to justice, tolerance and building a fairer society for all.

Bolton Council of Mosques: BCoM

The Bolton Council of Mosques (BCoM) has been uniting, and standing up for Muslims in Bolton for over 20 years. Its goal is to ensure that all Muslims have the opportunity to take an active part in building a better society for everyone who lives in Bolton by involving them at a grass roots level, and highlighting the vital contribution they make to the town. BCoM has 28 affiliated Mosques.

Oldham Mosques Council

The Oldham Mosques Council is an umbrella organization with some 35 Mosques and services the needs of a community in excess of some 35,000 Muslims.

Rochdale Council of Mosques: RCM

The Rochdale Council of Mosques has been working with communities in Rochdale since 2003 and it has 15 mosques affiliated to it. Our vision is to develop successful, confident and united Muslims, who pursue their aspirations with respect and dignity in order to make valuable contributions to the economic, spiritual and civic life of Rochdale. Our work is about developing a framework for addressing issues affecting local Muslim people through effective partnership working, promoting harmony and unity between the people of Rochdale. We endeavour to consult, contribute, help develop and where needed, deliver services which meet the needs of the Muslim communities living in Rochdale. We also act as a gateway to service providers, enhancing access and participation of the Muslim community.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Qadir Chohan (Chair of MCOM): 07904 092 748

Mr Yousef Dar (Stockport Muslims): 07833 494 088

Mr Ibrahim Kala (BCoM): 07525 048 346

Mr Tahir Mahmood (RCM): 01706-655322

Mr Mufti Helal Mahmood (Oldham Mosques Council): 07877665231