Boris Johnson under fire for comparing burqas to letter boxes in UK

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson listens during a visit to a Metropolitan Police wildlife crime unit in London Britain

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson listens during a visit to a Metropolitan Police wildlife crime unit in London Thomson Reuters

"Boris Johnson's latest racist insults can not be laughed off, like they often are", said Naz Shah, the Labour Party's shadow equalities minister.

"[Prime Minister] Theresa May must condemn this blatant Islamophobia and Boris Johnson must apologise".

Mr Johnson said he was against the total ban - which has also been imposed in France, Germany, Austria and Belgium - because otherwise "you play into the hands of those who want to politicise and dramatise the so-called clash of civilisations; and you fan the flames of grievance".

Mr Johnson said he opposed a ban on the face-covering veils, but described them as "absolutely ridiculous" and compared their wearers to rebellious teenagers.

"It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes", he wrote.

In Denmark, where wearing the face veil became illegal last week, police on Saturday issued the first fine of 1,000 kroner ($157) to a woman for breaking the law in a sjopping centre in Horsholm, north of Copenhagen, according to Danish media reports.

The Muslim Council of Britain said Johnson's comments were particularly "crass" at a time when Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred was becoming "worryingly pervasive".

But he said: "Such restrictions are not quite the same as telling a free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business".

In his Daily Telegraph column, the former foreign secretary came out against calls for a ban on the "oppressive" veils in public but felt "fully entitled" to expect women to remove them at his MP's surgery.

And he said that a ban on burkas could lead to "a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation".

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Nonetheless, he recognised that a total ban on burqas and niqabs was "not the answer" and said: "I don't propose we follow suit".

Boris Johnson has been accused of Islamophobia after he wrote that Muslim women wearing burkas "look like letter boxes".

Mohammed Amin, chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum, said the former foreign secretary's comments will be seized upon by the far-right.

He said businesses and government agencies in the United Kingdom should be able to "enforce a dress code" that allowed them to see people's faces.

It recently emerged that Johnson - a potential frontrunner to be the next prime minister - is in "direct communication" with Steve Bannon, the US President's former chief strategist and former head of far-right nationalist website Breitbart. "Deeply disappointing that (the) Telegraph platforms this disgusting language".

The Britain's top diplomat who was branded a "pound-shop Donald Trump fanning the flames of Islamophobia", called the religious attire "oppressive".

Labour MP David Lammy called Johnson a "pound-shop [Donald] Trump".

The Labour MP Stella Creasey warned that Johnson was in danger of "going full Morrissey", in reference to the singer who has been mired in controversy over comments on immigration.

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