The Sun's Kelvin Mackenzie sparks 800 complaints to press regulator after 'completely unacceptable' attack on Muslim journalist

Channel 4 News brands 69-year-old's comments 'offensive, completely unacceptable and arguably tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred'

Kelvin Mackenzie's comments about Muslim news presenter are 'tantamount to religious hatred', says Channel 4

The Ipso has received over 800 complaints following Kelvin MacKenzie's column in The Sun questioning why a Muslim reporter who wears a hijab reported on the Nice terror attacks for Channel 4 News.

The former Sun editor was widely criticised on Monday for the column which asked: “Why did Channel 4 have a presenter in a hijab fronting coverage of the Muslim terror in Nice?”

Ipso said they had received 100 complaints by Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, it said they are still processing complaints in relation to the column but put the current figure at 800. The majority of these complaints are under the editorial codes of accuracy, harassment and discrimination.

In the article, MacKenzie said he “couldn't believe his eyes” when he saw journalist Fatima Manji reporting on last week's terror attack on Bastille Day, saying she wasn't one of the "regular presenters".

“Was it appropriate for her to be on camera when there has been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim?" Mackenzie wrote. "Was it done to stick one in the eye of the ordinary viewer who looks at the hijab as a sign of slavery of Muslim women by a male-dominated and clearly violent religion?"

Channel 4 News, who were also accused of "editorial stupidity" by MacKenzie, said in a statement: “The comments… are offensive, completely unacceptable, and arguably tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred. It is 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.

“Fatima Manji is an award-winning journalist. We are proud that she is part of our team and will receive, as ever, our full support in the wake of his comments”.

The column sparked a backlash on social media including from Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who was the first Muslim woman to serve in a British cabinet. Ms Warsi shared a letter she had written to the newspaper's editor–in-chief Tony Gallagher in response to the comments which she called “an attempt to ‘other’ the Muslim community”.

“Just as politicians should carry the responsibility for xenophobic and toxic campaigning that divides communities so journalists should be held accountable for ‘shock jock’ writing which simply perpetuates stereotypes, demonises and attempts to hold a whole community accountable for the actions of an individual,” she wrote.

On Monday, the newspaper published an article written by Muslim writer Anila Baig, who dismissed the idea that Ms Manji had been used as a ‘token’: “She’s a professional who has been working for the programme for four years, not someone dragged in off the street just because she’s got a scarf on her head," she wrote.

Representatives for The Sun did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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