100 Muslim women who wear niqabs and burkas demand Boris Johnson’s exit

‘We have not forfeited our right to be treated fairly and as equal citizens in this country’

‘We have not forfeited our right to be treated fairly and as equal citizens in this country’

People have been calling for the resignation of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson after he was accused of ‘vilifying Muslim women’ this week.

Johnson voiced his thoughts on the dress of Muslim women in a recent column for the Daily Telegraph, stating 'It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes’.

Yes. The ex foreign secretary said women who walk around in burkas look like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letter boxes’ - and unsurprisingly no one is very happy about it.

It was announced that the Tory party were investigating the complaints against Johnson, but that wasn’t enough for the public, with his office hit by a rally against his controversial comments, organised by Muslim Engagement & Development.

Today, 100 British Muslim women have come forward today against Johnson by sending an open letter to the chair of the Conservative party.


Here is the letter in full…

Dear Brandon Lewis,

We, the undersigned, write to you as British Muslim women who wear the niqab or burqa.

We speak as free women who are able to speak for ourselves and make our own choices. Our decision to wear the niqab or burqa is not an easy one, especially given the hate that many of us experience on a regular basis. Nevertheless we do so because we believe it is a means to get closer to God.

We recognise that this is not the practice of the majority of Muslim women and that it is a very small number who make this choice in the UK. All personal choices should be respected.

Contrary to what you may have been told by sections of the media and columnists who profess to know what is best for us, we are not forced to make these clothing choices, nor are we oppressed.

As women who wear the niqab or burqa, we have not forfeited our right to be treated fairly and as equal citizens in this country. Yet we have representatives of our governing party who think otherwise and who use Muslim women in order to pander to far-right Islamophobes within the party, as Boris Johnson has done.

We understand that you have requested Mr Johnson to apologise.

As chairman of a party that seeks to represent the whole country, which protects individual liberty as a cherished British value, your call - we believe - is insufficient.

Given a deliberate choice was made to inflame tensions in a way that makes it easier for bigots to justify hate crime against us, we concur with Conservative peer, Lord Sheikh, who has demanded the whip be withdrawn from Mr Johnson.

Furthermore, given the responses from other MPs, specifically Ms Dorries, and the broader concerns that have been raised by the Muslim Council of Britain amongst others, we believe that there must now be an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Party to tackle this issue once and for all.

Our rights as equal citizens may be debated within wider society, but such vile language which has real consequences for us, should never be acceptable.

We are happy to speak to Members of Parliament to share our experiences and perhaps demystify some of the concerns they may have.

We look forward to hearing from you soon,


Hawa, Bolton

Shenaz, Bolton

Aisha, Bolton

Nurjahan, Bolton

Asiya, Bolton

Rashida, Blackburn

Zarina, Bolton

Almas, Bolton

Saadia, Bradford

Sabera, Bradford

Aisha, Bolton

Shaheda, Batley

Noreen, Birmingham

Shahnaz, Luton

Hamida, London

Hajra, Dewsbury

Jameela, Bolton

Haleema, Bolton

Haneefa, Bolton

Memuna, Bradford

Firdous, Bradford

Kulsum, Bolton

Fatema, Bolton

Khadijah, Luton

Khoyrun, Portsmouth

Fatima, Portsmouth

Gulab, Portsmouth

Jiba, Portsmouth

Sadika, Portsmouth

Husna, Portsmouth

Saffiyah, Portsmouth

Nazma, Portsmouth

Asma, Portsmouth

Mayarun, Bolton

Zainub, Bolton

Farida, Batley

Yumna, London

Zubaidah, Newcastle

Farzana, Batley

Maaya, Bradford

Simra, Bradford

Rasheda, Leicester

Farzana, Dewsbury

Sajidah, Bolton

Bushra, Newcastle

Rukhsana, Blackburn

Maryam, London

Farzana, Blackburn

Maarya, Batley

Rasheda, Leicester

Aminah, Oldham

Maariya, London

Taslim, Bolton

Shehnaz, Bolton

Shamim, Bolton

Sumayah, Bolton

Badrunnisa, Blackburn

Farhana, Bolton

Fatimah, Leicester

Nasim, Bolton

Rizwana, Bolton

Ammaarah, Manchester

Neelofar, Dewsbury

Salma, Bolton

Lyba, Manchester

Razia, London

Muneebah, Manchester

Qudsiyyah, Manchester

Nida, Birmingham

Sidrah, Manchester

Sahar, Cardiff

Shamima, Newport

Pritima, London

Tahsin, London

Zaynab, Chadwell Heath

Amina, London

Shirin, Stratford

Sumey, Bradford

Arifa, Bradford

Farhana, Bradford

Asma, London

Zakera, London

Summayya, London

Nasim, Leicester

Shahida, Leicester

Nasima, London

Anisa, London

Abeda, Bradford

Nafisa, Bradford

Fatima, Bradford

Khadija, Bradford

Noreen, Bradford

Sarina, Bradford

Halima, Bradford

Azba, Bradford

Nabeela, Bradford

Zainab, Bradford

Ammarah, Batley

Humera, Batley

Asma, Blackburn

Aneesa, Batley

Waseeya, Chorley

Anisah, Preston

Nafisa, Bolton

Jamila, Blackburn

Anisha, Blackburn

Saheera, Blackburn

Shakila, Preston

Tahmina, London

Latifah, London

Nada, Birmingham

Shuhana, Swindon

Sidrah, Oldham

We will continue to update this story.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.