Boris Johnson’s Telegraph column comparing Muslim women with ‘letterboxes’

Graham Charles Lear
8 min readNov 29, 2019


Last night again after saying I will never watch again the biased BBC Question time I watched. I was not disappointed, as usual, it turned into We All Hate Boris And the Torys which I suppose for a change was a tad better than the usual We All Hate Brexit and Brexiteers.

The usual crowd were there, rent a gob Marxists representing Corbyn's Labour party were there in full gobby mode you could tell the venue in Swindon was full of them seeing as they just about outdid Caroline Lucus’s barmy army in the clapping stakes every time she gobbed off without interruption. It must have been bad because my wife looked up from her knitting and said, good god doesn't she know when to shut up, after the third time she gobbed of my wife said I thought this was Question Time, not a Green Party a Political Broadcast.

On the whole, though the other four on the panel were not too bad, a Tory, Labour Journalist, and a Yank who actually spoke a bit of sense on the questions asked by the biased audience.

Not that it did her any good, she clearly had not looked at what was in the audience when one loaded question was asked. If she had seen what was in the audience just waiting to ambush her I doubt she would even spoken on the subject.

The question asked was about Corbyn's inability to say sorry to the whole of the Jewish community for the Anti Semitism that has gripped the Labour party for years, Oh good I thought at last something that the panel to get their teeth into……………….Then my mouth dropped wide open because dear Fiona from the BBC quickly moved on to another question this time on the question of Islamophobia in the Tory party. Here we go again more Borish bashing and I was not wrong, quickly moving on from Labours Anti Semitism we moved on to the Islamophobia. Gobby Lucus who had not said much about Labours Anti Semitism suddenly went into overdrive with her mouth, The Labour MP thought he had a wet dream, the poor Tory could not say two words without gobby Lucus butting in and when she did not butt in dear Fiona did. The topic, of course, was about when Boris wrote an article and said LETERBOXES and BANK ROBBERS referring to Muslim ladies covering there head with a garment that left their eyes behind a slit in the covering. If anyone had bothered to actually read the article that he wrote they would have seen it all in a different light. But no why read an article when a nice juicy titbit from the media can titillate the taste buds for a nice scandal.

This is where I began to feel a little bit sorry for the Yank because she had not seen what I had seen. Sitting in the audience were two young Muslin ladies, I politely call them lady's, they were more like screaming banshees, I think even gobby Lucus was a bit shocked at losing her gobby title, no matter what the Yank said she was made to feel as if she was the worst human being not in the venue but the whole world, which must have come as a shock to her seeing as up to that moment that title belonged to Corbyn.

There were two things that struck me. The first one was the look on their faces when asked if they had read the actual article, they clearly had not read it and the look of shock on their faces which clearly said WHAT ARTICLE?

The second thing that struck me was their accents, the venue was in Swindon. Swindon is 80 miles away from London, everyone else except one more lady was speaking in their own dialect. These two ladies were out and out Cockneys born within the Bowbells of London. Which begs the question that they must have been shipped into the program by either the BBC or the Labour party solely to make trouble.

So this morning I thought I would root out the actual article that has caused all this. You can read it below and make your own mind up

Denmark has got it wrong. Yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous — but that’s still no reason to ban it


Ah Denmark, what a country. If any society breathes the spirit of liberty, this is it.

It was only a few weeks ago that I was in Copenhagen for some international conference, and as ever I rose early and went for a run. As I passed through some yuppie zone of warehouse conversions and posh restaurants I saw to my amazement that the Danes had also got up early for exercise — and they were diving stark naked into the bracing waters of the harbour. And I thought to myself — that’s the Danes for you; that’s the spirit of Viking individualism. I mean, we have a climate warmer than Denmark; but even so, would you expect to see Brits disrobing and plunging into the waters of Canary Wharf or even Greenwich? We are pretty easy-going, but not that easy-going.

Denmark is the only country in Europe, as far as I know, that still devotes a large proportion of its capital city to an anarchist commune, called Christiania, where I remember spending a happy afternoon 25 years ago inhaling the sweet air of freedom. It is the Danes who still hold out against all sorts of EU tyrannies, large and small.

They still chew their lethal carcinogenic tobacco; they still eat their red-dyed frankfurters; they still use the krone rather than the euro; they still refuse to let foreigners buy holiday homes in Jutland; and of course it was the heroic population of Denmark that on that magnificent day in June 1992 stuck two fingers up to the elites of Europe and voted down the Maastricht treaty — and though that revolt was eventually crushed by the European establishment (as indeed, note, they will try to crush all such revolts), that great nej to Maastricht expressed something about the Danish spirit: a genial and happy cussedness and independence.

It is a spirit you see everywhere on the streets of Copenhagen in the veneration for that supreme embodiment of vehicular autonomy, the bicycle. The Danes don’t cycle with their heads down, grimly, in Lycra, swearing at people who get in their way. They wander and weave helmetless down the beautiful boulevards on clapped-out granny bikes, with a culture of cycling in which everyone is treated with courtesy and respect. Yes, if you wanted to visit a country that seemed on the face of it to embody the principles of JS Mill — that you should be able to do what you want providing you do no harm to others — I would advise you to head for wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen.

So I was a bit surprised to see that on August 1 the Danes joined several other European countries — France, Germany, Austria, Belgium — in imposing a ban on the niqab and the burka — those items of Muslim head-gear that obscure the female face. Already a fine of 1000 kroner — about £120 — has been imposed on a 28-year-old woman seen wearing a niqab in a shopping centre in the north eastern town of Horsholm. A scuffle broke out as someone tried to rip it off her head. There have been demonstrations, on both sides of the argument. What has happened, you may ask, to the Danish spirit of live and let live?

If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you. If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree — and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran. I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes; and I thoroughly dislike any attempt by any — invariably male — government to encourage such demonstrations of “modesty”, notably the extraordinary exhortations of President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya, who has told the men of his country to splat their women with paintballs if they fail to cover their heads.

If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled — like Jack Straw — to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly. If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto: those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct. As for individual businesses or branches of government — they should, of course, be able to enforce a dress code that enables their employees to interact with customers; and that means human beings must be able to see each other’s faces and read their expressions. It’s how we work.

All that seems to me to be sensible. But such restrictions are not quite the same as telling a free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business. I am against a total ban because it is inevitably construed — rightly or wrongly — as being intended to make some point about Islam. If you go for a total ban, you play into the hands of those who want to politicise and dramatise the so-called clash of civilisations; and you fan the flames of grievance. You risk turning people into martyrs, and you risk a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation, and you may simply make the problem worse. Like a parent confronted by a rebellious teenager determined to wear a spike through her tongue or a bolt through her nose, you run the risk that by your heavy-handed attempt to ban what you see as a bizarre and unattractive adornment you simply stiffen resistance.

The burka and the niqab were certainly not always part of Islam. In Britain today there is only a tiny, tiny minority of women who wear these odd bits of headgear. One day, I am sure, they will go.

The Danes swim starkers in the heart of Copenhagen. If The Killing is to be believed, their female detectives wear Faroe sweaters on duty, as is their sovereign right. If Danish women really want to cover their faces, then it seems a bit extreme — all the caveats above understood — to stop them under all circumstances. I don’t propose we follow suit. A total ban is not the answer.



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.