If you are 18 years of age, your name is Jamal, you have a beard and you wear a hat, you are not welcome. This was expressed by a member of Bureau of American Islamic Relations, also known as BAIR, on a BBC documentary. the BAIR is one of the extremist organisations, working to protect “American values’’ against the influence of Islam. Members of this and other similar organisations, rely heavily on the second amendment of the United States constitution, to make full use of the first amendment, and protest regularly, heavily armed, in front of mosques in Dallas, Texas. In the UK, discussions surrounding Islamophobia have been sparked due to remarks made by former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, comparing women wearing veils to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”, in his column titled “Denmark has got it wrong. Yes, the burqah is oppressive and ridiculous — but that’s still no reason to ban it”, published on 5th August, in The Telegraph. By the end of the piece, the title of which may gives the impression that it is written in opposition of the ban, demeans it even more. This added fuel to the fire while there is growing rancour against the burqah ban in other EU countries. While I myself am a critic of the burqah and feel despondent over it being identified as a part of Islam, find the recent actions and remarks instigating and divisive. No surprise, this was immediately followed by an incident, involving someone, attacking and ripping off the veil of a 28 year old woman in Horsholm, in the supposedly liberal Denmark. Comments by Boris will yield nothing less. It must be clarified that the burqah is a part of the Muslim culture, but not a part of the religion of Islam. The origin of the word burqah in Arabic, dates back to pre-Islamic time and as per Lisan-al-Arab, means a shawl used by village women to cover themselves. Veil was also in vogue, in Persia and when Persia converted to Islam, many of its norms were adopted by Muslims all over. Pardon the bafflement over the Denmark Parliament’s stance, which resonates with France and other EU countries that their burqah ban is to uphold democratic and secular values, while it actually does the opposite, by instructing an independent adult on how to dress Naturally, Muslim culture was influenced by the two dominant civilisations. So, the driver in Bristol who, asked a mother of a two month old, to remove her veil, may have been Islamophobic, but what he did not realise was that he was attacking a cultural norm, acceptance of which is an integral part of secular and democratic values. So, pardon the bafflement over the Denmark Parliament’s stance, which resonates with France and other EU countries that their burqah ban is to uphold democratic and secular values, while it actually does the opposite, by instructing an independent adult on how to dress. For Muslims, the burqah is part of a long list of acts,that are done in the name of religion but are not part of religion. This list ranges from toxins like the blasphemy laws of some Muslim countries, persecution of minorities in the name of religion, to polygamy. And on this list, I will be surprised to find anything that has done any good for the religion. Still the act to ban burqah, in principle, adds these liberal democracies, to the very list of countries that dictate how people dress. Borrowing Mr Johnson’s words from the article that have stirred much controversy, no one should ‘tell a free born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business’. While all these points are not elusive bans are a reflection of the growing anti-Muslim sentiment. Whether Boris’s remarks will prove to be a much needed life line for Teresa May, who is now in a power struggle within the conservative party or a winning strategy for Boris Johnson, only time will tell. After all the man who said in March, 2016 ”I think Islam hates us’’ was sitting in the US Oval Office by November 2016. And the team that surrounds him is no less. Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn called Islam a political ideology that hides behind this notion of it being a religion. Stirring up controversy, motivating and addressing closet bigots seems to be a winning strategy, never mind the consequences. In a country where I have found more freedom of religious expression, than an Islamic republic would offer, if this proves to be the winning stroke, I would be surprised. The writer is based in Oxford University Hospitals Oxford, UK Published in Daily Times, August 15th 2018.