Boris Johnson has been condemned as racist in an extraordinary statement from a Sikh lawmaker in the British parliament. Labour member of parliament Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi urged the prime minister to apologize for remarks he made in a newspaper column last year saying Muslim women who wear a full face veil look like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers.” Singh Dhesi said the remarks were “derogatory and racist” and called on Johnson to launch an inquiry into Islamophobia within his Conservative party. “For those of us who have had to endure and face up to being called names such as ‘towel head’ or ‘Taliban’ or ‘coming from Bongo Bongo Land’ we can appreciate full well the hurt and pain felt by already vulnerable Muslim women when they are described as bank robbers and letter boxes,” he said. The statement received a rare round of applause in the House of Commons—a response that is prohibited by parliamentary tradition. Johnson refused to apologize, saying his remarks had been taken out of context.