Sun column on Muslim journalist sparks 800 complaints

Kelvin MacKenzie's attack on Channel 4 News journalist 'tantamount to inciting religious hatred', says broadcaster

(Image credit: Fatima Manji/Twitter)

Hundreds of people have complained to the UK's press regulator over a column in The Sun questioning whether it was appropriate for a Muslim journalist wearing a headscarf to be reporting on the terror attack in Nice.

Writing about Fatima Manji presenting a Channel 4 News segment on the mass killings, columnist Kelvin MacKenzie asked: "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?"

So begins "one of the most extraordinary pieces of comment journalism in recent memory", the i newspaper reports.

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MacKenzie, a former Sun editor, went on to ask if the broadcaster would send "an Orthodox Jew to cover the Israeli-Palestine conflict" or a "Hindu to report on the carnage at the Golden Temple of Amritsar".

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) says it has received more than 800 complaints related to accuracy, harassment and discrimination in the article.

Channel 4 News fiercely condemned the column and said the comments were "offensive, completely unacceptable and arguable tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred".

Suggesting a qualified journalist should be barred from presenting a particular story because of their faith was wrong, it added.

"Fatima Manji is an award-winning journalist," it said. "We are proud that she is part of our team and will receive, as ever, our full support."

The column also sparked outrage across social media, with Baroness Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet, tweeting a letter she wrote to The Sun's editor-in-chief Tony Gallagher.

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"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.

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