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Boris Johnson faces probe for saying women in burqas look like ‘bank robbers’

LONDON — Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson faces an investigation by an independent panel over complaints that he violated the ruling Conservative Party’s code of conduct when he wrote in a newspaper column last week that women in burkas resemble ‘‘bank robbers’’ and ‘‘letter boxes.’’

Johnson resigned as Britain’s top diplomat a month ago after claiming that Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals for a soft exit from the European Union were killing the dream of a clear, decisive split from the bloc.

Johnson remains a backbench member of Parliament and contender to replace May in a future contest for power. After quitting his Cabinet post, the flamboyant former London mayor took up his pen as a paid opinion writer for the Daily Telegraph.

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His most recent column noted his opposition to a new ban on face veils in Denmark but veered away to critique traditional Islamic garb, calling niqabs and burkas ‘‘oppressive and ridiculous.’’

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Johnson asserted that schools should be entitled to tell students to remove a veil if one ‘‘turns up . . . looking like a bank robber.’’

Johnson was called upon to apologize but declined, according to his employers.

He is believed to be on vacation.

About 5 percent of the British population is Muslim.

washington post