Hawzah News Agency (London, UK) – In a letter to the Jewish News, Rabbi Menahem Lester said he disagreed with Boris Johnson’s remarks about Muslim women wearing burkas and attacked the paper for reports it ran criticising the comments.
Rabbi Lester said countries that have banned the burka had done so for “good reason.”
He wrote: “I am among many who feel Islam has no place in Europe and certainly not in Britain.”
He said the burka “represents the imposition of Muslim influence over their surroundings.
Edie Friedman, executive director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality said Rabbi Lester’s comments were “so outrageous I didn't even think it came from a real person.
“It doesn't take much imagination to think how Jews would feel if the same was said about Judaism.
“Such coarsening of public discourse threatens the very social cohesion on which we all depend. We really need to take a step back and make sure we are able to discuss issues in an unemotional manner, free from bigotry.”
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Reform Judaism's senior rabbi said: “As a British rabbi I reject the letter and the statement that Islam has no place in Europe.
“I strongly believe in our shared destiny as Jews and Muslims.”
She added: “We have to remain vigilant. These attitudes that are expressed about Islam and Muslims will affect Jews and the same with what is said about Jews will affect Muslims.”
Rabbi David Mason, of Muswell Hill Synagogue, also condemned the comments.
“As a rabbi as well as building a strong sense of Jewish identity it is also important to make sure you protect the identity of others.”
Other figures in the Jewish community condemned Mr Johnson’s comments, including Jonathan Goldstein, the chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, who said his remarks were “totally disgraceful”.
Adrian Cohen, the chairman of the London Jewish Forum, said Mr Johnson’s remarks “should be of grave concern” the Jewish community.