Local Tory chair told Muslim her hijab was ‘offensive’

UK Conservative Party official resigns after telling Muslim mother her hijab was ‘offensive’
3 min read
10 December, 2019
A Muslim mother has spoken out on Facebook after a senior Conservative Party official reportedly told her that her headscarf is 'offensive'.
Fiona Bulmer [R] resigned from her role as a local party chair [Screenshot]
A Conservative Party chairwoman was forced to resign after she told a Muslim woman her hijab was “offensive” while campaigning ahead of the United Kingom's general election on Thursday.

Barnet Conservatives chairwoman Fiona Bulmer reportedly accosted mother-of-two Sidrah Mohammed, who had been at an Asda in Southgate with her two children during the encounter.

Mohammed, who posted about the encounter on Facebook, said she had been wearing trousers, a raincoat and a “small pink headscarf” when she was approached by Tory supporters.

She had reportedly asked Conservative supporters about prime minister Boris Johnson’s past Islamophobic comments, including comparing women who wear the niqab to “letterboxes.”

Writing on the social media platform, she said: “When I tried to film her she darted off with the rest of her group, leaving a 20-something year old Tory member to speak to me.

"The Young Tory was getting really upset about the video and cried - I ended up hugging her and calming her down while her Tory colleagues left her.

"Make of that what you will. My first Islamophobic attack in my life was from a active Tory member.”

She went on to add: "I'm part of no party. I'm just a British mum getting on with being an active and positive member of society. But apparently my wearing trousers, a raincoat and a small pink headscarf is offensive."

The Facebook post was shared online, prompting further outrage over the Conservative Party's alleged inaction on Islamophobia. Barnet Conservatives later asked Bulmer to step down and penned an apology “for the offence caused.”

I'm part of no party. I'm just a British mum getting on with being an active and positive member of society. But apparently my wearing trousers, a raincoat and a small pink headscarf is offensive.

They said: “We recognise that those holding office in a political party must take the greatest care to avoid anything which might be viewed as derogatory to any faith or minority community.

“That is why we asked Fiona to stand down as chairman of our local party, with immediate effect, and she will take no further part in the general election.”

'Structural Islamophobia'

Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson has has himself been accused of having a history of Islamophobic comments and pandering to the far-right with anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In a column for the Daily Telegraph back in 2018, Johnson compared women wearing burqas to “letter boxes.”

In the £275,000-a-year column, he wrote it was “absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”

He wrote: “If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled… to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly.

"If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto: those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct."

In 2005, Johnson wrote in the Spectator that Islamophobia "seems a natural reaction" to any non-Muslim reading the Qur’an.

Following the London bombings, he insisted the country accept "Islam is the problem".

On Tuesday, the Muslim Council of Britain's Secretary General, Harun Khan, slammed what he described as an "institutional" problem of Islamophobia in the party of government.

“The Conservative Party has an institutional, widespread problem with Islamophobia, which has been clearly documented both by the Muslim Council of Britain and other individuals, organisations and media outlets,” Khan said.

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