Entertainment & Arts

Kelvin MacKenzie's hijab remarks in Sun spark 1,400 complaints

Kelvin MacKenzie Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kelvin MacKenzie questioned whether it was appropriate for a Muslim journalist to report on the Nice massacre

The press regulator has received more than 1,400 complaints about remarks Kelvin MacKenzie made in The Sun criticising a journalist for wearing a hijab while reporting the Nice attack.

The paper's former editor questioned whether Fatima Manji should have been allowed to appear on Channel 4 News.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) said it would assess the complaints.

Channel 4 News said the comments were "completely unacceptable".

The news organisation told the BBC it would be making an official complaint to Ipso over the remarks.

It is also understood Manji is considering her other legal options.

Image copyright Channel 4 News
Image caption Fatima Manji co-presented the news bulletin from the London studio the day after the attack

Writing in his column on Monday, MacKenzie said he could "hardly believe my eyes" when Manji - who normally wears the traditional Muslim head scarf - appeared on the news bulletin.

She was co-presenting the programme from London while Jon Snow reported from Nice.

"Was it appropriate for her to be on camera when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim?" he wrote.

"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?"

'Completely unacceptable'

Eighty-four people were killed by French-Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel when he drove a lorry through crowds gathered in Nice to celebrate Bastille Day.

"The comments published in The Sun by Mr MacKenzie are offensive, completely unacceptable, and arguably tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred," Channel 4 News said.

"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."

'Will not be deterred'

Ipso said the complaints it received related to accuracy, harassment and discrimination.

Manji wrote a response to MacKenzie's comments in the Liverpool Echo, saying she was "not expecting an apology from him any time soon".

"Mr MacKenzie's article was but one wild screed in a long-running and widespread campaign to intimidate Muslims out of public life," she said.

"[He] has attempted to smear 1.6 billion Muslims in suggesting they are inherently violent. He has attempted to smear half of them further by suggesting they are helpless slaves. And he has attempted to smear me by suggesting I would sympathise with a terrorist.

"I will not be deterred... by the efforts of those who find the presence of Muslims in British cultural life offensive."

A spokesman for The Sun said it was making "no comment" on the issue.

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