Boris Johnson Described Muslims As Being Part Of A “Multicultural Apartheid”
In an exclusive, I can reveal that in 2005, then MP for Henley, and now Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote in the Telegraph that; “We should forbid the imams from preaching sermons in anything but English” and described British Muslims as being part of a “multicultural apartheid”. These new comments and others I’m about to reveal, will raise further questions about Boris Johnson’s general attitude towards Muslims and whether he can be trusted as Prime Minister.
Previous comments that Boris Johnson has made as a journalist have been reported before. He faced widespread criticism when he likened Muslim women who wear the Burqa, to “bank robbers” and “letterboxes.” Even after making the comments, Mr Johnson doubled down and defended them.
Since becoming Prime Minister, questions have been raised as to whether he takes the issue of Islamophobia seriously, and more importantly, has he contributed to it.
According to Tell MAMA, hate crimes towards Muslims rose by 375% following Johnson’s letterbox jibe.
During the Conservative Party leadership contest Johnson and the other candidates promised that they would commission an independent investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. However, just last week it was confirmed that the report had been changed to look at “all forms of prejudice.”
While rooting out and challenge all forms of prejudice isn’t necessarily an issue, it is wondered how the Tories would react if the Labour Party watered down plans to stop anti-semitism as they have with anti Muslim hate.
Moreover, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who became the first Muslim cabinet Minister under David Cameron, has criticized her party on a weekly, almost daily basis for their inaction towards Islamophobia.
“Blinkered Education” to Blame for Racism
I was sent a link to Boris Johnson’s long forgotten personal blog which can be found here. The site is an achieve of every article and Press Release Boris Johnson or his office have released between January 2004 and March 2016.
An article that immediately drew my attention is titled; “THE BRITISH DREAM: WE MUST ALL SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE.” It can be read here on the blog, or for those who wish to confirm the provenance, the link to the August 2005 article in the Telegraph is here.
You would assume from the title that Johnson, who was then the MP for Henley, was talking about immigrants and their non use of English. However, he seems to have specifically targeted Asians and specifically Muslims to talk about this.
He starts off with a story revealing how his own internal racism led him to believe that his child’s school was rewriting history by talking about Mary Seacole, a black nurse born in Jamaica in 1805, who like Florence Nightingale went to help soldiers during the Crimean War.
The blue plaque for Mary Seacole at 14 Soho Square, City of Westminster | Credit: Ethan Doyle White – CC BY-SA 4.0
He states that he first thought;
“But this ‘Mary Seacole’, I whispered to the Islington mums around me, she’s just been invented, hasn’t she? It’s just political correctness, I said.”
The now Prime Minister does go on to admit that his own “blinkered education” led him to his initial thoughts and that his own children were now getting a proper education. However, he then seems to praise something rather odd about the whole experience; the fact in what in English.
“This school pageant concerned a fascinating period of British history; the seven-year-olds shed an interesting light on that period; and, above all, the whole thing was conducted in English.”
This seems a rather odd thing to point out. After all, all UK schools teach in English, even Welsh and Gaelic schools will conduct some lessons in the English language.
Johnson Singles Out British Muslims
After this, Johnson then seems to take aim at a specific minority group; Muslims.
He starts this attack by gaslighting Muslims by quoting an Islamist who said he bore no allegiance to the Queen.
His reasoning for this?
“We should all feel the same mysterious pang at the sight of the Queen. We do indeed need to inculcate this Britishness, especially into young Muslims, and the problem is how.”
“Especially into Young Muslims.” This is a highly problematic statement in itself, but Johnson doesn’t stop there, He goes on to call for change to how Muslims practice their own faith.
The “megastar” as he referred to himself earlier in the article, has a shopping list of things for British Muslims to do;
“We should teach English, and we should teach in only English. We should teach British history. We should think again about the jilbab, with the signals of apartness that it sends out, and we should probably scrap faith schools. We should forbid the imams from preaching sermons in anything but English; because if you want to build a society where everyone feels included, and where everyone shares in the national story, we cannot continue with the multicultural apartheid.”
Firstly, as I previously pointed out, UK schools DO already teach in English. While their may be some private or unregistered schools, this is not the norm.
The issue of scrapping faith schools is one of personal preference and something I see no issue with. There are a wide range of views on faith schools and whether they still work in multicultural Britain.
Now, his comment that we should; “forbid the imams from preaching sermons in anything but English“, is uneducated and outright Islamophobic.
To start with, as a Muslim who has been to many UK mosques, I can confirm that Imams will usually speak in English most of the time, when they don’t, they translate everything they say into English. Why? Because British Muslims themselves speak English and may not know arabic as well as people seem to think.
Some of the bigger Mosques also have a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter for those who are deaf and hard of hearing. Low and behold that translates to; English.
Yes, the Quran is in Arabic and Prayers are conducted in Arabic, but you learn what they mean in English. There are some people who may know thew words to say; but have absolutely no idea what they are saying. They, like me learnt from a translation and then slowly learn the meanings of particular words and phrases.
To call for Imams to speak only in English, is in my opinion; Islamophobic.
My reasoning is as follows; It would be anti-semitic to call for Jewish Sermons to be conducted only in English rather than Hebrew. What of Johnson’s hallowed Latin that is used in the Christian faith? He doesn’t call for these to be banned because like many others on the right of UK politics, he has an issue with Muslims.
As for attributing a; “multicultural apartheid” to Muslims, this is a straight up white supremacy conspiracy theory. This is akin to “the great replacement” conspiracy theory that Muslims are taking over Europe.
A recent endorser of Mr Johnson for Prime Minister, the far-right Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson), has used this type of rhetoric before. It is therefore unsurprising that Mr Johnson has failed to distance himself from Mr Yaxley-Lennon’s endorsement.
It seems after all, they share the same views.
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We, all good decent people, understand such incitement to hate is to insinuate fear and thus allow fascism to be and have populations actually welcome the stripping away of all the rights which make for a good and sustainable society. The true test would be, as you point out, that Bore-us would demand that services in synagogues be conducted in the language of his choice, failing that he should be found unfit to hold office and charged with hate crimes.
Like many and a rapidly growing number of Jews I am anti-zionist because it is anti-Semitic (injurious to Arab and Jew) and have found my determination in Judaism, the core values of which are; Love your neighbour, welcome the stranger and heal the world. These will be familiar to any sincere adherent of any faith not least Islam because they are the heart of all. While, given the times, I often have cause to tell people, ‘The best Jews I know are Muslims.’ to have them re-think a prejudice.
And, lets be intelligent again, if what you, Alex, do and how you do it is any indicator of the good part Islam may contribute to our shared society then I would defend it’s ability to continue to enrich us all.
Salam aleikum translation? “peace be upon you”.
His talk of “multicultural apartheid” is typical right-wing abuse of terminology: apartheid is an imposed system of racial segregation. It does not mean two communities generally living separate lives, or there being an area where a large section of the population are from a particular minority.
As for mosques and speaking English or Arabic, the issue in fact is sermons and other talks in Urdu, which a number of mosques still use an awful lot. Many mosques where there is a large Arabic-speaking population in fact do use English; many mosques run by the Asian community (though fewer than in the past) give talks in Urdu and not bother to translate because ‘enough’ people, in their view, understand. The result is that many young people are left out, as well as converts and Muslims from other backgrounds (e.g. Somalis) and they look for guidance elsewhere and this often means sectarians and extremists. Arabic on the other hand is vital to understand the Qur’an, hadeeth and pretty much the entire corpus of Islamic scholarly literature.
The equivalent of Arabic in the Jewish community is indeed Hebrew; the equivalent of Urdu is Yiddish, which the majority of Jews (other than the ultra-Orthodox) have abandoned. They do still learn Hebrew, so as to understand scripture and is of course useful if they travel to Israel. I recall reading an essay titled “English and Hebrew must be the languages of American Jewry” which argued against the continued use of Yiddish because it sets the community apart and makes progress impossible. The same should really be true of the use of Urdu in British mosques.
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