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Neil Basu urges politicians to be careful of what they say in public


Neil Basu  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Neil Basu (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

BRITAIN’S counter-terrorism chief has urged politicians to be careful of what they say publicly.

Without directly referring to prime minister Boris Johnson’s earlier remarks comparing Muslim women to “letterboxes” and describing black people as “piccaninnies,” Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, said anyone making such comments would be barred from joining the police.

“Every public figure who’s got a microphone and has got an opportunity to speak should take the opportunity to be bringing society together,” Basu told The Guardian.

“The most important thing everybody should be aiming for is a socially cohesive, inclusive society … we should all be very careful about what we say publicly.”

Last year, Johnson was accused of Islamophobia after saying Muslim women wearing burkas “look like letterboxes.”

In a column for The Telegraph, Johnson said he was against bans on face-covering veils in public places, but added that it was “ridiculous” people chose to wear them.

Johnson wrote: “If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you.

“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 letter boxes.”

In another The Telegraph column, written in 2002, Johnson used racial slurs to refer to African people.

Mocking Tony Blair’s globetrotting, Johnson wrote: “What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”

Johnson has since apologised for his remarks.