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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Supporters of ex-minister Boris Johnson post anti-Muslim comments on Facebook page

Team of former foreign secretary declined to ‘censor’ comments

Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson remains under party investigation for his burka comments. EPA
Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson remains under party investigation for his burka comments. EPA

The UK’s former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, was at the centre of a new Islamophobia row on Sunday after it emerged that his official Facebook page hosted hundreds of messages railing against Muslims.

The messages included calls to deport Muslims and demands for a ban on Muslims in the government, police or army. A source close to Mr Johnson said that the former minister condemned the hateful views but his team had not chosen to ‘censor’ the comments because of his support for free speech.

The comments, uncovered by The Sunday Times, represent just the latest controversy for Mr Johnson and the ruling Conservative party, which has faced complaints from its own Muslim members about failures to tackle discrimination.

Mohammed Amin, the chairman of the party’s Muslim Forum, said in June that his party was seen as ‘anti-Muslim’ and was more concerned about electoral issues than taking decisive action against abuse.

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Mr Johnson has remained at the centre of British political debate despite quitting his position last month because of disagreements with prime minister Theresa May over her Brexit policy.

He remains a popular figure and is seen as a likely challenger for the leadership of the party, which is embroiled in factional fighting over Brexit.

The former journalist has resumed a lucrative newspaper column, which he has used to promote Brexit and sparked a furore after likening women who wear the burka to bank robbers and letterboxes. He is currently under investigation from his party for his comments.

He has yet to comment publicly about reaction to the column but his supporters have made clear that he did not think his comments were Islamophobic and he has no intention of apologising.

Separately, Nusrat Ghani, a transport minister in the government, called on tech companies such as Google, Twitter and Facebook to do more to tackle stalkers who abuse their platforms.

She told the newspaper that she had been stalked for two years by a man who targeted her because she was a woman MP, Asian and a Muslim. The stalker contacted hundreds of people who met the MP and then promoted conspiracy theories about her, she said.

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