Channel 4's Fatima Manji speaks out on hijab smear accusing Kelvin MacKenzie of trying to ‘intimidate Muslims out of public life’

Fatima Manji

Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji earlier this week became the focus of former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie’s column for the tabloid, as he questioned whether she should have been allowed to report on the Nice terror attack while wearing a hijab.

The piece, entitled ‘Why did Channel 4 have a presenter in a hijab fronting coverage of Muslim terror in Nice?' has been condemned by Channel 4 and the NUJ, and sparked hundreds of complaints to IPSO, but Manji spoke out on the opinion piece for the first time in a piece for the Liverpool Echo on Tuesday.

She wrote: “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.”

She added: “Mr MacKenzie’s article was but one wild screed in a long-running and widespread campaign to intimidate Muslims out of public life. 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.”

One and a half billion Muslims were the subject of MacKenzie’s column, she claimed, by suggesting that they are “inherently violent”.

She concluded: “The truth is I always pride myself on journalistic integrity regardless of who I’m interviewing or what story I’m covering.That is my mission at Channel 4 News. I will not be deterred in this mission by the efforts of those who find the presence of Muslims in British cultural life offensive. 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.”

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