Monday, March 4

Channel 4 presenter says hijab ruling means it’s open season on Muslims



Newsreader Fatima Manji makes stinging attack on press regulator Ipso after it clears Kelvin MacKenzie of breaking code.

Fatima Manji. Ipso ruled that in the context of the Nice attack, MacKenzie had a right to question her headdress under free speech.

The Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji has accused the press regulator of giving a green light to newspapers to attack Muslims after it cleared Kelvin MacKenzie over his criticism of her wearing a hijab while reporting on the Nice terror attacks.

She said the “frightening” decision by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) in effect condoned abuse.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Manji said: “I am happy for people to ridicule me or offend me. I’m not happy for people to incite hatred against me, and that’s what happened here.

“What Ipso has done is effectively sent out the green light for newspapers to attack minorities and Muslims in particular. To know … that it is effectively open season on minorities on Muslims and minorities in particular is frightening.

“The fact that Kelvin MacKenzie can write a column and suggest that I am somehow sympathetic to a perpetrator of a terrorist attack, and that somehow I am not ‘like the rest of us’, that I’m the other, means that other people are open to attack.”

In his column for the Sun on 18 July, the paper’s former editor accused Channel 4 News of “editorial stupidity” for allowing Manji to wear a hijab when “there had been another shocking slaughter by a Muslim” in Nice.

Manji and ITN complained to Ipso claiming the article breached the watchdog’s code on the grounds of discrimination, harassment and accuracy. The regulator also received 1,700 other complaints about the article.

But on Wednesday Ipso ruled that in the context of the attack, MacKenzie had a right to question Manji’s headdress under free speech. In its ruling it said: “While the columnist’s opinion was undoubtedly offensive to the complainant, and to others, these were views he had been entitled to express.”

Manji said she feared for her safety after the MacKenzie column was published. “One contributor to a BBC radio debate approvingly spoke of the idea that I should be lynched.”