Kelvin MacKenzie Ipso ruling ‘frightening’, says Fatima Manji

Media captionFatima Manji responds to IPSO ruling on Sun writer’s comments

Channel 4 news journalist Fatima Manji has said the press regulator’s decision not to uphold her complaint about Kelvin MacKenzie is “frightening”.

Writing in the Sun in July, MacKenzie said a reporter wearing a headscarf should not have been allowed to report on the Nice terror attacks.

In its ruling, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) said he was “entitled to express” his view.

But Manji said the ruling signified “open season” on minorities.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the fact that Kelvin Mackenzie can write a column and suggest that I am somehow sympathetic to a perpetrator of a terrorist attack, that somehow I am not like the rest of us, that I am the other, means that other people are now open to attack.”

‘Embarrassed and ashamed’

“It was upsetting enough to find my picture in what is Britain’s most widely read newspaper next to the words ‘Muslim terror attack,'” she told Mishal Husain.

“It was upsetting enough to find myself the latest victim to Kelvin Mackenzie’s tirade. But now to know that has been given the green light by the press regulator and that effectively it is open season on minorities, and Muslims in particular, is frightening.”

Manji added that she had been “contacted privately by individuals who work at The Sun and at News UK to say they were embarrassed and ashamed that Kelvin MacKenzie was allow to peddle such hatred”.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Kelvin MacKenzie was the editor of The Sun between 1981 and 1994

In his original column, MacKenzie asked: “Was it appropriate for [Manji] to be on camera when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim?”

He argued the hijab was a “religious statement” and questioned whether a Christian would be able to wear a cross prominently on television.

Manji told the BBC: “This debate about religious symbols to me is a manufactured debate by the Sun and Kelvin MacKenzie. He is not a public philosopher of our time, he’s not interested in religious symbols

“A third of the victims [in Nice] were Muslim, a 62-year-old grandmother was slaughtered that night, she, like me, was called Fatima and also wore a headscarf.”

Ipso’s ruling, published on Wednesday, said: “The article did not include a prejudicial or pejorative reference to the complainant on the grounds of religion.”

“While the columnist’s opinion was undoubtedly offensive to the complainant, and to others, these were views he had been entitled to express.”

Image copyright
Channel 4 News

Image caption

Fatima Manji co-presented the news bulletin from the London studio the day after the attack

Responding to the ruling, Ben De Pear, the editor of Channel 4 News, said: “Whilst we agree that freedom of expression is a fundamental right, we do not believe that it should be used as a licence to incite or discriminate.”

“We see no reason why a Muslim journalist should be prevented from covering any story and Fatima will continue to report and present the news on the issues of the day with impartiality and depth.”

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