UK leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson is under fire for saying Islam caused the Muslim world to be "literally centuries behind" the west.
It emerged Tuesday the Conservative Party politician wrote in 2007 that the rise of the religion in the Middle East was a hindrance to the region's development.
"There must be something about Islam that indeed helps to explain why there was no rise of the bourgeoisie, no liberal capitalism and therefore no spread of democracy in the Muslim world," he wrote in an essay unearthed by the Guardian.
In the essay, titled 'And Then Came the Muslims', he also claimed "Muslim grievance" played a role in most if not all global conflicts.
Johnson's comments have attracted widespread criticism on social media.
The former foreign minister and ex-London mayor, has a history of inflammatory comments towards the faith.