THE REPORTER WHO was criticised by a former Sun editor for wearing a hijab while presenting the Channel 4 news has said his words “won’t stop me from doing my job”.
The Sun came under fire over a column by its former editor Kelvin MacKenzie which questioned why Fatima Manji was allowed present a news report on the Nice terror attacks while wearing a hijab.
Today, Manji wrote in the Liverpool Echo about how MacKenzie’s column won’t prevent her from doing her work.
“I’m not expecting an apology from him any time soon,” she said, after detailing how it took him 23 years to apologise for the Sun’s coverage of the HIllsborough tragedy.
She said she was grief-stricken by the massacre in Nice.
“I will not be deterred in this mission by the efforts of those who find the presence of Muslims in British cultural life offensive,” said Manji.
She accused MacKenzie of trying to smear 1.6 billion Muslims “in suggesting they are inherently violent” and smearing her by suggesting she would “sympathise with a terrorist”. Her full response can be read here.
Hundreds of complaints have been made to the UK press regulator over the column:
MacKenzie’s column was also tweeted out by the newspaper using a photograph of Manji, but this tweet was later deleted.
MacKenzie asked in his column if Manji’s appearance on the Channel 4 news to announce the Nice terror attacks was “appropriate… when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim”.
Was it done to stick one in the eye of the ordinary viewer who looks at the hijab as a sign of the slavery of Muslim women by a male- dominated and clearly violent religion?
MacKenzie said he didn’t “blame” Fatima Manji and said that the people of Nice and France “would view a foreign reporter wearing a hijab in these tense times as massively provocative”.
The Telegraph says that the UK press regulator, Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), has received more than 300 complaints about MacKenzie’s column.
In a statement, Channel 4 said that it was “wrong to suggest that a qualified journalist should be barred from reporting on a particular story or present on a specific day because of their faith”.
The channel described MacKenzie’s comments as “offensive, completely unacceptable, and arguably tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred”.
The National Union of Journalists condemned MacKenzie’s column, with NUJ secretary Michelle Stanistreet saying:
To suggest that a journalist is incapable of reporting on a terrorist outrage because of the colour of her skin, her religion or the clothes that she wears says all you need to know about the contemptible views of Kelvin MacKenzie. His feigned moral outrage is the language of racial hatred and bigotry, and sadly just the latest incoherent ramblings of a pundit who should have been put out to pasture a long time ago. Journalism in the UK needs more diversity, not less.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi shared a letter on Twitter which she sent to the editor the Sun, where she criticised the “ignorant reporting and pieces that perpetuate hate”.
Writing in The Guardian, media commentator Roy Greenslade said that:
I think MacKenzie was wrong to be so critical. On the other hand, and this is likely to be an unpopular view among his detractors (plus those who loathe the Sun), I must defend his (and their) right to air his views. He is, after all, hired to be a controversialist.
While the Sun has not publicly responded to the uproar, it did publish a column by Muslim writer Anila Baig last night, where she praised Manji for wearing a headscarf on television.
The Sun came in for major criticism online for MacKenzie’s column – not least because in October of last year, it used a hijab on its front cover.
By picturing a woman wearing a hijab made of the Union flag, the newspaper was “urg[ing] Brits of all faiths to stand up to extremists”, as it said itself.
In contrast, MacKenzie’s column posited the wearing of a hijab as inflammatory and offensive to France in the wake of terror attacks.
The hijab went from being used as a symbol of peace and unity on the Sun’s front cover to a symbol of division and unrest in MacKenzie’s column.