Fatima Manji: People at The Sun told me they were 'embarrassed and ashamed' over Kelvin MacKenzie hijab comments

Channel 4 reporter says Ipso decision not to uphold complaint over column sets a dangerous precedent  

Heather Saul
Thursday 20 October 2016 17:21 BST
Ofcom received 17 complaints about Fatima Manji after The Sun’s Kelvin MacKenzie urged readers to contact the watchdog
Ofcom received 17 complaints about Fatima Manji after The Sun’s Kelvin MacKenzie urged readers to contact the watchdog

Fatima Manji has claimed members of staff at The Sun told her they were “embarrassed and ashamed” by comments made by Kelvin MacKenzie in a controversial column about the presenter wearing a hijab while reporting on the Nice terror attack.

The Channel 4 reporter warned the press regulator's decision not to uphold a complaint over comments by the former editor of The Sun signals “open season” on minorities.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) ruled the column published in the newspaper he once ran did not amount to religious discrimination.

But Manji said MacKenzie’s othering of her is particularly dangerous because of the precedent it could set for the treatment of others.

Appearing on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Manji said individuals at the newspaper and from News UK contacted her privately “to say they were embarrassed and ashamed that MacKenzie was allowed to peddle such hatred“.

She added: “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.

MacKenzie, pictured in 2011, edited The Sun from 1981 to 1994 (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

“It was upsetting enough to find myself the latest victim to Kelvin Mackenzie's tirade. But now to know that he 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.”

In a statement after Ipso published its ruling, MacKenzie said there should be space for “legitimate debate” about whether it is appropriate for journalists to wear “prominent symbols of their faith on air, particularly when reporting on stories with a religious angle”.

Ben De Pear, the editor of Channel 4 News, said the broadcaster is dismayed by Ipso’s decision not to uphold the complaint.

A spokesperson for The Sun declined to comment.

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