UK culture minister under fire over past comments on Muslims

New UK culture minister once pushed to ban 'medieval' Muslim burqa
2 min read
18 September, 2021
Nadine Dorries’ comments were unearthed by Twitter users following the UK cabinet reshuffle, and others pointed out further comments she made about the hijab.
Nadine Dorries has come under fire for past comments she made about Muslim women. [Getty]

Britain’s new culture secretary once called the Muslim burqa “medieval” and campaigned for the religious clothing to be banned, prompting fresh concerns over Islamophobia.

Nadine Dorries was appointed the United Kingdom’s culture secretary in a cabinet reshuffle last week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In 2018, Johnson wrote a controversial newspaper column in which he claimed that the burqa was “oppressive” to women.

In the same column penned in the Telegraph, he said women who wore the burqa looked like “bank robbers” and “letterboxes”.

Following Johnson’s lead, Dorries said the burqa should be banned.

“I’m very disappointed in Boris that he did not go further and actually use that newspaper article to call for a complete outright ban on a dress code – a medieval dress code – which was designed to cover up women’s beauty and their bruises,” she told Sky News at the time. “Women should be allowed to choose what they wear, and many of these women are not allowed to choose. As I have said, they are not even allowed to choose who they marry.”

“Many of them aren’t even allowed to keep their genitals,” she added. Dorries was referring to the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), a cultural practice carried out in parts of Asia and Africa.

Dorries’ comments were unearthed by Twitter users following the cabinet reshuffle, and others pointed out further comments she made about the hijab.

“Dorries became embroiled in an argument on Twitter with the journalist and activist @a_leesha1 wherein she described the hijab, niqab, and burqa as forms of ‘medieval costume’, stating: ‘[No] progressive society should tolerate it,” tweeted anti-hate group Hope not Hate.

The account shared several screengrabs of an interaction between Dorries and journalist Aleesha Khaliq, in which Dorries claimed that women who were burqa were “suppressed” by forcing to “cover up, segregate and become invisible”.

She went on to call the burqa a “medieval costume”. 

Hope not Hate has written an open letter to the Conservative party chairs citing “grave concerns about the record of the newly appointed Culture Secretary” and her “consistent pattern of Islamophobia, freely promoting anti-Muslim and far-right propaganda on her Twitter feed.”