James Carr (Department of Sociology, University of Limerick) writes for RTÉ’s Brainstorm that if we’re going to challenge Islamophobia and controversial comments like those of Boris Johnson, we need to start recognising it as anti-Muslim racism.
“Islamophobia, or anti-Muslim racism, is no stranger to Ireland. For the past decade, I have been researching with Muslim communities across the Republic of Ireland, specifically focusing on this pernicious phenomenon. Early August witnessed the topic of Islamophobia come to the fore again in public debate in the UK context, this time through the pen of Conservative MP and former minister, Boris Johnson.
“His controversial comments on Muslim women and Islamic veiling practices generated much debate. While arguing that the British state should not regulate how Muslim women dress, Johnson referred to those female Muslims who wear the burqa/niqab as “letter boxes” and “bank robbers.”
“Needless to say, Johnson’s comments were met with strong criticism from a range of commentators. The issue of whether or not Johnson, a well-heeled white non-Muslim male, was best placed to advise on how Muslim women should dress was at the heart of much of the criticism directed towards him; criticism that repeatedly regarded Johnson’s comments as Islamophobic or racist towards Muslims.”