UK: Muslim woman in medieval mask criticises Boris Johnson

Niqab-wearing Sahar Al-Faifi bashes Boris on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show

Sunday 28 July - Sahar Al-Faifi previously worked in the NHS as a molecular geneticist, but has taken a lengthy sabbatical to be a full-time Islamic activist, one whom the Victoria Derbyshire programme appears to have on speed-dial.

Previously the show gave her a platform to condemn the BBC’s popular drama Bodyguard for its ‘Islamophobic narrative’ in portraying a Muslim woman as a suicide bomber.

A year ago Sahar Al-Faifi received the Derbyshire call after Boris Johnson filed his now notorious Telegraph article, in which he expressly stated that the burka and other forms of ‘oppressive’ dress should not be banned.

However, Boris went on to say:

'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 letterboxes.’

At a time when many brave women in Iran and elsewhere were riskily removing their compulsory hijabs,  Boris was not without female Muslim supporters.

Journalist Qanta Ahmed said: ‘Today the adoption of the full-face veil, particularly in the modern secular world, is far worse than looking like a letterbox. It’s both a symbol of cultural misogyny and a political marker for Islamist sympathies.’

Naturally for Sahar Al-Faifi, it was ‘Islamaphobic and racist’ that her face covering had been likened to a letterbox.

Individual viewers are able to make their own aesthetic comparison, but voicing it will become verboten should Ms Al-Faifi get her way.

To the surprise of no one, she has been part of the ongoing campaign, spearheaded by disaffected Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi,  for a catch-all definition of Islamophobia that preferentially protects all ‘expressions of Muslimness’.

When pressed by Andrew Neil, ‘Is it Islamophobia to say that people should not wear what you are wearing?’, Al-Faifi reluctantly conceded that although criticism would remain permissible – how magnanimous! – she does indeed want ridicule of her niqab to become punishable as a hate crime.

At least for the moment, Sahar Al-Faifi can do no more than sound off behind her medieval mask. However, BoJo in Downing Street has given fresh impetus to her labelling the new prime minister as an ‘Islamophobic racist’.

This is a point of view which the BBC is keen to publicise.

It therefore was no surprise that Thursday’s Derbyshire show prominently featured Sahar Al-Faifi: ‘I am deeply, deeply concerned about Boris Johnson being elected as leader of the Conservative Party, not only because of the Brexit delivery deal, but also [...] because of his racist, Islamophobic and homophobic remarks.’

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