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UK's ex-foreign minister to face probe over burqa remarks
12 August 2018, 09:42 | Darnell Patrick
Islam Who’s really racist – Boris or his critics
London British actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson, best known around the world for his role as Mr Bean, has defended former United Kingdom foreign secretary Boris Johnson over comments he made about the burqa.
The MP voiced unhappiness that Johnson had been referred to the party's internal disciplinary process on Thursday, and argued that the former foreign secretary had a right to free speech, even if people took offence at his remarks.
"Boris Johnson's use of language in this instance, which risks dehumanising and vilifying Muslim women, is inflammatory and divisive".
Comedian Rowan Atkinson, best known for his roles in Blackadder, Mr. Bean and Johnny English, has defended Johnson.
The actor, known for his comedy performances in Mr Bean and Blackadder, said the remarks were amusing.
A panel including one independent figure, one representative of the voluntary party and one nominated by the backbench 1922 Committee, will look into complaints that his comments breached the Conservative Party's code of conduct. "On that basis, no apology is required", he added.
Joining Julia Hartley-Brewer on talkRADIO, he said: "I think a lot of your listeners will be deeply anxious about the state of our democracy and free speech".
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He wrote: 'If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you.
"You should really only apologise for a bad joke".
The letter also said that Johnson's choice of Islamophobic words was deliberate and "was made to inflame tensions in a way that makes it easier for bigots to justify hate crime against us", adding further support to Tory peer Lord Sheik's request that Johnson lose the party whip, meaning he would no longer represent the party.
"This is quite an important issue about free speech and it's got nothing to do with the awful events that take place over Enoch Powell and the Rivers of Blood speech".
Mr Johnson, who is holidaying overseas, has so far made no response to the launch of the Tory investigation.
"Boris was speaking out against a ban of the type that's taken place in Denmark and some other countries".
Johnson's comments were criticised by Muslim groups and politicians including Prime Minister Theresa May, who urged Johnson to apologise.
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