British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire for saying that the Libyan city of Sirte could be a tourist site should it clear the dead bodies.
Johnson spiked a controversy on October 3 at the Conservative conference and provoked calls for his resignation after saying that the war-torn Libyan city of Sirte had only to “clear the dead bodies away” to become a world-class tourist destination like Dubai.
“They literally have a brilliant vision to turn Sirte, with the help of the municipality of Sirte, to turn it into the next Dubai. The only thing they’ve got to do is clear the dead bodies away and then they’ll be there,” he said.
Johnson has visited Libya twice and last month held a conference on the country’s political future attended by US secretary of state Rex Tillerson.
Sirte, the major ISIS stronghold outside Iraq and Syria, fell to the terrorists in February 2015. It was recaptured through the second half of 2016 with the help of US airstrikes and forces loyal to the UN backed government based in Tripoli. The Libyan government has been struggling for months to clear elaborately laid IEDs across the city left by Isis during the near-year-long siege of the city by Libyan government forces.
Johnson’s gaffe has provoked strong backlash, with some describing his comments as unacceptable and some others calling for his resignation.
“For Boris Johnson to treat those deaths as a joke — a mere inconvenience before UK business people can turn the city into a beach resort — is unbelievably crass, callous and cruel,” said the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry.
Backbench Conservative lawmaker Heidi Allen along with Anna Soubry, a former Tory cabinet minister, also called on May to “sack” Johnson. Allen’s cabinet colleagues Damian Green and Sarah Wollaston joined her in criticizing Johnson.