Channel 4’s Fatima Manji has now complained to UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation over Kelvin MacKenzie’s column in the Sun that criticized her reporting on the Nice truck attack. MacKenzie wasn’t criticizing what she reported, but rather that Manji was the reporter who was assigned to the story, given that she is Muslim and wears a hijab. As of late last week, more than 1,700 complaints had been filed with IPSO, as iMediaEthics has reported.
Channel 4 pointed iMediaEthics to its statement. Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear confirmed that in addition to Manji’s complaint, Channel 4 parent company ITN’s CEO John Hardie filed a complaint, in a statement posted on Twitter.
“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,” de Pear said in part. “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 said in a statement to iMediaEthics that most complaints over MacKenzie’s column are over accuracy, harassment and discrimination. “We will be taking forward a complaint from the party directly affected and will be handling this in accordance with our normal procedures,” IPSO said. “While the matter is ongoing, IPSO will not make any further comment on the case.”
iMediaEthics has reached out to the Sun and Manji for further comment.
— Hayley Barlow (@Hayley_Barlow) July 22, 2016
Meanwhile, MacKenzie published a July 21 column responding to his critics.
“All I did was ask a simple question: Was it appropriate for a hijab-wearing presenter to front the Channel Four News on the night they were covering the Nice massacre by a Muslim?” he wrote. “A reasonable inquiry you would have thought with the sensitivities that currently exist in this nation and the rest of Europe. Then the Twerperati got involved and it became a national debate with a record number of complaints to the press regulator Ipso.”
MacKenzie said he is “not hostile” to Manji but that he thought Channel 4 “made an error by putting her on air.”
Then, MacKenzie asked if it was OK for TV reporters “wear artefacts that advertise their religion.” MacKenzie wrote:
“So I have another simple question, this time for the TV regulator Ofcom: Should presenters be allowed to wear artefacts that advertise their religion?
“If, for instance, one of the regular presenters was a Christian (I’m joking since at C4 you wouldn’t get an interview) would they be allowed to wear a huge cross outside of their shirt or blouse to the same prominence as a hijab?”
MacKenzie also called for Channel 4 to air a documentary on Islam, writing: “Instead of accusing me of Islamaphobia (yawn! yawn!) Channel 4 might like to try finding a Muslim presenter to front a documentary about Islam’s attitudes towards the gay community, or perhaps on how women are treated as second-class citizens in Muslim countries.”
Hat Tip: Press Gazette
UPDATED: 7/25/2016 5:37 AM\