News Desk |
Britain’s newly sworn-in Prime Minister Boris Johnson has an interesting connection to Pakistan and Islam.
Boris Johnson in his interview, to a Pakistani media outlet during his visit to Pakistan in 2015 stated that his wife Marian Wheeler, with whom he has four children, is of Pakistani origin. Marina Wheeler is a Pakistani Sikh. Both Marina and Boris dissolved their 25-year marriage last year.
In his interview, Boris revealed that his wife Marina consistently persuaded him to visit Pakistan along with her but he couldn’t fulfil her wish due to heavy political engagements.
“My wife (Marina Wheeler) originates from Pakistan, she is a Sikh and her parents were from Sargodha. She has been asking me to visit Pakistan for a long time but unfortunately, I was unable to do so but I intend to visit the amazing country soon,”
“By the way, my friend Peter Oborne (cricket writer and political analyst) is upset with me too that I haven’t been to Pakistan and I have promised him too that the visit will be on my priority list after the elections are over,” he had said.
Relation to Islam
Interestingly, Boris Johnson’s ancestors had Islamic roots. He shared that his great grand-father was a Muslim of Circassian-Turkish descent. Connected to the Ottoman Empire, his great-grandfather held crucial responsibilities. His maternal great-grandfather was a Russian Jew, who had an Orthodox rabbi as a forefather.
His grandfather’s name was Ali Kamal and he was a journalist and a liberal politician. Ali Kamal’s father was Ahmed Afandi who was a merchant. He was born in 1867 in what is modern day Istanbul.
Due to diverse religious backgrounds, Boris once called himself a “one-man melting pot” – with a combination of Muslims, Jews, and Christians as great-grandparents.
Criticism of Islam
Borish Johnson Islamic roots came as a shock to many, particularly due to his statements on Muslim women in abayas and hijab, and targeting the practices of Islam.
Boris Johnson had passed rough comments targeting Muslim women. He had compared Muslim women wearing abayas to ‘letterboxes’ and bank ‘robbers’.
Women wearing burka are like letter boxes and bank robbers. there is something about Islam that hindered development in parts of the globe and, as a result, “Muslim grievance” was a factor in virtually every conflict.
~ Boris Johnson, UK PMhttps://t.co/37ZWuIuVrx
— Imtiaz Mahmood (@ImtiazMadmood) July 26, 2019
Surprisingly, Boris Johnson once argued that the practices of Islam had historically put the Muslim world “literally centuries behind” western countries.
.@BorisJohnson take on Islam is historically illiterate. Jerry Brotton's antidote to Johnson's abject ignorance and prejudice. Just like @realDonaldTrump Johnson disregards facts to play to the baser instincts of his Tory base. https://t.co/8cVWLAN9WB
— Bob Cywinski (@BobCywinski) July 20, 2019
“There must be something about Islam that indeed helps to explain why there was no rise of the bourgeoisie, no liberal capitalism and therefore no spread of democracy in the Muslim world,” wrote Boris Johnson in an essay included in the 2007 version of his historical book The Dream of Rome.
He blamed the religion of Islam for Muslim world’s sluggish development stating that extraordinary to think that under the Roman/Byzantine empire, the city of Constantinople kept the candle of learning alight for a thousand years and that under Ottoman rule, the first printing press was not seen in Istanbul until the middle of the nineteenth century,” Johnson wrote. Adding that, “Something caused them to be literally centuries behind.”
He had called Islam, the powerful ‘retrograde force’ in the world. He even wrote that the ‘real problem with the Islamic world is Islam.’ Despite facing backlashes from the community, Boris remained unrepentant and defended himself stating that he would continue to speak as directly as he can. That week recorded a spike in hate crime with at least 21 women reported Islamophobic attacks against them.
Despite his hard-to-swallow comments against Islam, he asserted that he will not be declared an Islamophobe since his great-grandfather Ali Kemal, was a Turkish politician and journalist.
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