Boris Johnson has been strongly criticised for arguing Islam has caused the Muslim world to be “literally centuries behind” the west, in an essay unearthed by the Guardian.
Writing about the rise of the religion in an appendix added to a later edition of The Dream of Rome, his 2006 book about the Roman empire, Johnson said there was something about Islam that hindered development in parts of the globe and, as a result, “Muslim grievance” was a factor in virtually every conflict.
Johnson’s argument was described as disconcerting and problematic by Tell Mama, which monitors anti-Muslim hate and said he had demonstrated a lack of understanding of the religion. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said many people would like to know if the favourite to become the next prime minister still believed “Islam inherently inhibits the path to progress and freedom”.
Last year, Johnson was accused of dog-whistle politics after he used a Telegraph column to liken women wearing the burqa to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”.
In an essay titled And Then Came the Muslims, added to the 2007 edition of his book, Johnson wrote: “There must be something about Islam that indeed helps to explain why there was no rise of the bourgeoisie, no liberal capitalism and therefore no spread of democracy in the Muslim world.
“It is extraordinary to think that under the Roman/Byzantine empire, the city of Constantinople kept the candle of learning alight for a thousand years, and that under Ottoman rule, the first printing press was not seen in Istanbul until the middle of the nineteenth century. Something caused them to be literally centuries behind.”
The Conservative leadership frontrunner wrote that the inhibitor of progress was “a fatal religious conservatism” and the further the Muslim world had “fallen behind, the more bitterness and confusion there has been, to the point where virtually every global flashpoint you can think of – from Bosnia to Palestine to Iraq to Kashmir – involves some sense of Muslim grievance”.
Source: The Guardian