Rowan Atkinson defends Boris Johnson's right to free speech over burka joke – do you agree?

English actor Rowan Atkinson is one of the highest profile comedians in the UK, known for Mr. Bean, Blackadder and Johnny English. Today, he defended British Conservative politician Boris Johnson for recent remarks he made about burkas.

10th August 2018
/ By Sahalie Donaldson

Rowan atkinson mr bean boris johnson burka GETTY

Johnson’s incendiary comment likened Muslim women in burkas to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”. 

The 54-year-old former secretary of state was reacting to the news that the first person to publicly wear a full-face veil in Denmark had just been fined.

Denmark passed a law banning burkas in public on May 31 and the restriction went into effect on Wednesday August 1.

Despite the words he used, which many have called offensive, Johnson was warning against a similar motion in the UK.

Dozens of complaints have been filed over the jokes and Johnson is now under investigation by an independent panel under the Conservative party.

Johnson is on holiday currently and has yet to apologise.

On the opposing end, Atkinson rushed to defend Johnson’s right to criticise religion.

In a letter to The Times, he wrote, “As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson's joke about wearers of the burka resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one. 

"All jokes about religion cause offence, so it's pointless apologising for them.”

He continued: "You should really only apologise for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required."

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Do you agree with Rowan Atkinson's thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!


Åsa Älmeby Thorne


Freedom of speach is important. A comedian must be able to make jokes about anything. There are always people who are offended.

Colin Devine