Channel 4 News journalist Fatima Manji has complained to press regulator IPSO over a Sun column which questioned whether it was appropriate for her to present the news following the Nice terrorist attacks wearing a hijab.
Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear said: “ITN believes the article was in breach of a number of provisions of the Editor’s Code, in particular discrimination, harassment by intimidation and inaccuracy.
“A further complaint was also made by ITN chief executive John Hardie which fully supports and endorses the grounds and reasoning of Fatima’s complaint.
“ ITN accepts and understands that our reporters and presenters are in the public eye and can expect criticism and comment from many quarters, including newspaper columnists.
“What it cannot accept is an employee being singled out on the basis of her religion. We are not going to simply stand by when an employee is subject to act of religious discrimination.”
IPSO has received more than 1,700 complaints over the article.
Manji this week responded to MacKenzie in a comment piece for the Liverpool Echo which she referenced the infamous 1989 Sun Hillsborough front page, put together by MacKenzie, which has seen his paper boycotted on Merseyside ever since.
She said: “THE TRUTH? I confess. I pi**ed on Kelvin MacKenzie’s apparent ambitions to force anyone who looks a little different off our screens, and I’ll keep doing it.”
Manji also said: “…it’s dangerous to regard Mr MacKenzie and those who echo his Islamophobic sentiments as mere pantomime villains. Their soapbox allows them to spread their ill-informed, irresponsible and malevolent invective to millions of readers.
“Racist and Islamophobic rhetoric has real consequences – lives have been lost and shattered in our own country.”
Manji said she was personally “grief-stricken by the massacre in Nice, particularly by the haunting image of a little girl’s corpse laying next to the doll that was once her companion”.
And she noted: “Mr MacKenzie seemed to find my appearance on his screen equally horrific: ‘The scenes from Nice shocked audiences around the world, but did the C4 hosts (sic) headress (sic)?’”
She also warned that MacKenzie’s column will deter some from seeking a career in journalism.
“Young men and women of all backgrounds regularly ask me for advice on how to forge a career in journalism. Mr MacKenzie’s monologue will frighten many of them into believing that they will be on the end of tabloid attacks merely for daring to do their jobs.”
MacKenzie asked in his column why Manji was used by Channel 4 News to front its news bulletins on the day of the Nice attacks.
He said: “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?”
Manji responded: “Kelvin MacKenzie has attempted to smear 1.6 billion Muslims in suggesting they are inherently violent. He has attempted to smear half of them further by suggesting they are helpless slaves. And he has attempted to smear me by suggesting I would sympathise with a terrorist.
“The truth is I always pride myself on journalistic integrity regardless of who I’m interviewing or what story I’m covering.”