Call the Midwife’s Stephen McGann addresses Boris Johnson’s ‘burqa’ comments with moving personal tale

The actor who plays Dr Patrick Turner was praised for sharing the heart-lifting story

Getty, TL

Stephen McGann, who plays Dr Patrick Turner in BBC drama Call the Midwife, has tackled Boris Johnson’s recent comments on the niqab, the veils worn by some Muslim women.

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Speaking on Twitter, McGann took issue with Johnson’s recent Telegraph column – in which he said that women in burqas (the name of the full garment that covers the body and face) look like “bank robbers” or “letterboxes” – and countered it with a touching personal story.

In a lengthy thread, the actor reminisced about a recent trip to the Middle East and a meeting with a woman wearing a niqab. It transpired she had been a student at Swansea University and had fond memories of walking across the windswept Welsh beach.

“The only thing I couldn’t see of her was the small details the burqa covered,” McGann said. “Everything else was as clear as it was human. Everything important was communicated.”

He continued: “We live in a world full of our own veils. Presentations of the self that each of us makes to others in order to communicate some important aspect of ourselves. Religious. Political. Tattoos on the skin. Fashions and flags and non-verbal codes that tell others what we think worth knowing on our journey through our life.

“Sometimes these are social. Sometimes a signal. An aspiration, or a mark of belonging. But underneath that paper-thin carapace lies a commonality of character and feeling.”

And, not surprisingly, the story was quickly praised for showing “a genuine acceptance of those different from them”.

Johnson hasn’t yet apologised for the article, in which he made the comments about the “odd bits of headgear”, while arguing against their ban.

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On an official trip to Scotland, Prime Minister Theresa May condemned Johnson’s asides as “wrong”, telling the BBC they had “clearly caused offence”.


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