Boris Johnson says he doesn’t regret calling religious extremists lured by organisations such as Islamic State are “w*****s” who are obsessed with pornography.
The London mayor, who is to stand as a Conservative parliamentary candidate in the general election, took aim at Muslim fundamentalists in an interview with the Sun on Friday, suggesting they were young men who were low on self-esteem.
Citing an MI5 report into Muslim extremism, Mr Johnson told the newspaper: “If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally w*****s.
“They are tortured. They will be very badly adjusted in their relations with women, and that is a symptom of their feeling of being failure and that the world is against them. They are not making it with girls and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort – which of course is no comfort.”
Mr Johnson’s comments were branded as “irresponsible” on Friday. Mussurut Zia, general secretary of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, told Sky News: “I feel they are going to lead to a greater divide. He has a responsibility to all his constituents, not just the readers of the Sun.”
Speaking later to ITV News London, Mr Johnson defended the comments: “I think what I was saying was pure common sense and has been said many times before.
“We’re talking about a group of men, very often young men who are alienated, disaffected who have problems in their lives. They don’t feel like winners in society.”
Asked if it was helpful to call jihadists w*****s, Mr Johnson replied: “I don’t think that the point is contested. I don’t think it is seriously disputed by the people who do the profiling.
“The key thing that you’re talking about a group who are mainly young men who are not feeling that they are making it in the world, and that leads them to an ideology that persuades them that there is something that can make them bigger and stronger.”
More than 500 Britons are thought to have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamic State militants, while a report this week found many western women in the militant group were “desensitised” to violence carried out by the militants and encouraged it on social media.
It is not the first time Mr Johnson has been outspoken on terrorism – on a recent visit to the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil, he called on the government to supply sophisticated weaponry to Kurdish peshmerga fighters battling Islamic State terrorists.
But he suggested that ministers were nervous about doing so because they feared they could be used by the Kurds to establish their own separate state, independent of the Iraqi government in Baghdad.