Julia Hartley-Brewer ended an interview early with a caller after she “refused” to answer her questions, in a debate about Boris Johnson’s comments on the burqa.
Akeela Ahmed, from She Speaks We Hear, joined the talkRADIO breakfast show host to discuss the fallout from the former foreign secretary’s comments.
Ahmed argued that Johnson’s comments demonised Muslim women who wore a niqab or a burqa.
Hartley-Brewer asked: “If my GP suddenly started wearing a niqab or a burqa, or my daughter’s teacher - her physics teacher, a highly trained, brilliant woman - wore a niqab or a burqa would I be entitled to say; ‘I would like you to remove those items when you’re dealing with me and my child’, would that be acceptable? Or would I be demonising a Muslim woman?”
“In certain situations in which it’s not appropriate, and there’s mechanism in which those issues can be addressed, for example going through airport security, women who wear the niqab know that’s inappropriate,” Ahmed replied
“If you feel that you go to your GP surgery and somebody is not dealing with you appropriately then you have a mechanism to deal with that, but if you started calling your GP names, that’s when you’re demonising them”
“Akeela, who suggested calling people names?” Hartley-Brewer swiftly responded. “I’ve gone from saying if I respectively and politely like you to show your face when you’re dealing with me or my child, where did we get to calling names?”
“It is possible to have a conversation without demonising,” Ahmed explained.
- Read more: 'Muslim women are shouting, but no one's listening': a Muslim woman on Boris Johnson's comments and the media reaction
The conversation got heated when Hartley-Brewer asked Ahmed what the she should do if a Muslim woman refuses to remove her niqab after she’s asked her to do so in a situation involving GPs and teachers.
“So, if I say to a Muslim woman wearing the burqa or niqab that I don’t want them to treat or teach my child with her face covered and she refuses, what should I do then?” asks Julia.
“Boris Johnson didn’t even talk about those examples, and I think this is the problem…”
“I’ve just asked you about those specific examples and you are refusing to answer the question,” Julia ended with before the talkRADIO presenter thanked her guest and ended the debate with her.