British member of Parliament Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary for Prime Minister Theresa May, is facing an investigation launched by his own Conservative Party over recent remarks he made about burqas, the BBC reported. The results of the investigation could result in him being expelled from the party.
What did he say?
In a Sunday column for The Telegraph declaring that the burqa should not be banned in the United Kingdom, Johnson made remarks about the controversial clothing that some people considered a dog-whistle for Islamophobia.
In the column, Johnson said that Denmark's burqa ban was wrong despite the garment being oppressive to women. He then went on to state that Muslim women in burqas looked like "bank robbers" and "letter boxes."
"If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree," Johnson said.
"I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes," he added.
Johnson also noted that if "a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber," he would request that she remove the burqa if she wanted to speak with him.
"I am against a total [burqa] ban because it is inevitably construed — rightly or wrongly — as being intended to make some point about Islam," Johnson later added.
What led to his remarks?
In May, Denmark passed a law banning the burqa.
The law does not include headscarves, turbans, or the traditional Jewish cap, and Danish lawmakers said that the law does not target any specific religions in particular.
People who violate the new law can face up to six months' jail time, as well as fines.
The new law went into effect Aug. 1.
What was the reaction to his remarks?
In response to Johnson's remarks, the Muslim Council of Britain said that Johnson was "pandering to the far right" with his remarks.
Labor Party politician David Lammy even went as far as to compare Johnson to Trump, calling him a "pound-shop Donald Trump."
Prime Minister May also demanded that Johnson apologize over the remarks.
Many other leaders and members of Parliament expressed their outrage at Johnson's remarks, and demanded the former foreign secretary apologize.
Johnson refused to apologize for his remarks, calling the outrage at his remarks "ridiculous" as well as an attack on free speech.
According to the BBC, Johnson's supporters defended his remarks, saying that he was simply sticking up for "liberal values."
What about the investigation?
An independent panel will examine the complaints against Johnson. The panel has the power to refer Johnson to the Conservative Party's board, which could impose sanctions on Johnson, suspend his membership, or even expel him from the party.
According to the BBC, the party declined to comment.
A spokesperson the party said, "The code of conduct process is strictly confidential."