BORIS Johnson’s latest attempt to maintain his popularity amongst right-wing Conservatives undoubtedly dehumanises Muslim women and demonstrates the unacceptable depths of institutionalised Islamophobia in Conservative Party ranks (“May repeatedly refuses to say Johnson burka remarks Islamophobic”, The Herald, August 8)

Mr Johnson’s references to women wearing the burqa as “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” presents as juvenile playground humour, but this masks his sinister and calculating efforts to utilise these disgraceful and deliberately racist comments to further his leadership ambitions.

Witnessing Mr Johnson wading into the political territory currently occupied by Tommy Robinson and his intolerant, xenophobic acolytes, there are surely now some in the Conservative Party who realise that he no longer represents democratic Conservatism but is openly courting the UK right-wing lunatic fringe.

The mask has slipped, and those in the party who warmed to his loveable but lamentable buffoonery must now consider that the former foreign secretary is currently signposting his own malevolent brand of populism that owes more to Messrs Trump and Bannon than to traditional right-wing Conservative leaders like Margaret Thatcher.

The media that peddles such prejudiced and provocative sentiments should not be free from criticism either.

Much of the right-wing media in the UK is fully complicit in normalising anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred, whether consciously or not.

Had Jeremy Corbyn openly mocked the way some of the Jewish community dressed then he would have been, quite correctly, vilified by all and sundry. Mr Johnson has done precisely that, only he has directed his comments towards members of the Muslim community.

The tepid or apathetic response of the press in general would suggest complicity or even indulgence regarding his incendiary remarks.

I am glad some Government representatives are quoted as finding Mr Johnson’s opinions “offensive” , yet even if the indecorous Mr Johnson apologises I feel that this may be tokenistic in the knowledge that his objective has been realised and that his leadership hat remains firmly in the post-Brexit ring.

Owen Kelly,

8 Dunvegan Drive, Stirling.

AN interesting interpretation today by Iain Macwhirter on Boris Johnson’s comments on the burka; to demonstrate the double standards of the Labour Party who are pulling themselves apart over anti-Semitism (“Boris is an opportunist but is criticising burka really racist?”, The Herald, August 8).

Mr Macwhirter is a smarter guy than me and I’m sure Mr Johnson’s views are well timed to embarrass Labour. But Mr Johnston also craves media attention and publicity (like his friend in the White House) and the article will go down well with the right wing of the Tory party as we run up to the conference season.

Yes we should debate the burka and its role in 21st century Britain, but the language used by Mr Johnson does not promote healthy respectful discussion and he knows it; that is why he did it.

Willie Towers,

Victoria Road, Alford, Aberdeenshire.

IAIN Macwhirter is quite right to argue that Boris Johnson’s tasteless jokes about the burka do not amount to Islamophobia any more than Jeremy Corbyn’s support for the Palestinian struggle amounts to anti-Semitism. Likening the Israeli government to the Nazis is deeply insulting but not racist. If it was then likening the Russian government to the Nazis (which Mr Johnson and many others have done down the years) would also constitute racism.

Sean Pigott,

Flat 2/L, 13 Wilson Street, Largs.

WELL said, Iain Macwhirter.

Celia Judge,

Finnick Glen, Ayr.

NOT a red letter day for colourful wordsmith Boris Johnson on likening a burka to a letter box but others can judge if this was Islamophobic, offensive, ill-chosen or acceptable and harmless, I simply note that any permanently open letter box which I have seen was red and not black.

But perhaps the ex-foreign secretary has difficulty with colours: his Brexit untruths were not white – or little.

R Russell Smith,

96 Milton Road, Kilbirnie.