Fatima Manji slams IPSO regulator for condoning “hate speech”

28th Oct 2016

Ala Abbas

Channel 4 News Presenter Fatima Manji has spoken out against the press regulator, Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), after it cleared the former Editor of The Sun Newspaper, Kelvin MacKenzie, of religious discrimination. The decision to clear MacKenzie on October 19 was “fundamentally flawed” and “frightening”, according to Manji.

IPSO received 1,700 complaints from the public after Mackenzie wrote an article criticising the decision of Channel 4 to use a Muslim reporter to cover the Nice terror attacks in July this year. Manji and ITN also complained to the Watchdog claiming the article breached the Editors’ Code on the grounds of discrimination, harassment and accuracy.

In its ruling, IPSO said: “The article did not include a prejudicial or pejorative reference to the complainant on the grounds of religion” adding that “he [Mackenzie] was entitled to express his view that, in the context of a terrorist act which had been carried out ostensibly in the name of Islam, it was inappropriate for a person wearing Islamic dress to present coverage of the story.”


In her appeal letter, Manji said that Mackenzie’s original article was “akin to hate speech and incitement against an individual”. She said “pundits called radio stations to talk about my being lynched in support of Mr MacKenzie.”

She wrote: “[MacKenzie’s] report was a devastating personal attack on me, highly prejudicial and pejorative, designed to cause me significant distress by linking me to terror. It is clearly prejudicial and pejorative to link me to the murder of 84 people because I happen to be a Muslim and wear a hijab. Not only that, it prejudicially and inaccurately links me to a terrorist attack, which the vast majority of Muslims (including myself) believe to be absolutely abhorrent and against the teachings of Islamic principles. Indeed many of the victims of this attack were Muslims themselves, including a woman who like me was named Fatima and also wore a headscarf.”

She added: “There is also no consideration that the publication of this column led to fears about my physical safety in general given the current climate of Islamophobia and the risk that my being depicted next to the words ‘terror’ could lead to unwarranted attention or even abuse on the streets. Indeed my family and employer took precautions to ensure my safety in the days following the publication of this column.”

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Manji said IPSO had given a “green light for newspapers to attack minorities and Muslims in particular. To know … that it is effectively open season on minorities…is frightening.”

Section 12 of the Editor’s Code of Practice states: “The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.”

Channel 4 News Editor, Ben de Pear, said he was “dismayed” by the IPSO ruling, which has cleared Kelvin MacKenzie of any wrongdoing. He said: “His inflammatory comments on Fatima Manji’s professional status, which were widely condemned, and his attempts to equate the wearing of a hijab with support for terrorism, have no place in a properly informed and tolerant society. At Channel 4 News we employ reporters based on their journalistic skills, not their ethnicity. We see no reason why a Muslim journalist should be prevented from covering any story and Fatima will continue to report and present the news on the issues of the day with impartiality and depth.”

In his original article, MacKenzie questioned whether a Muslim woman should report on an attack carried out by another Muslim: “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?”

In response to the ruling, Channel 4 News anchor, Jon Snow, tweeted: “IPSO proves itself as toothless a press regulator as its forbear the PCC. Its ruling on Fatima Manji sanctions religious and racial abuse.”

Fatima Manji added: “Many will question when would IPSO ever find a breach of the clause prohibiting prejudicial references to an individual’s religion.”






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