Fatima Manji is a Channel 4 news reporter. Having worked at the TV station for four years, she occasionally appears on screen to present a news bulletin. Her news stories include consumer stories about NatWest and Apple, as well as daily headlines on subjects like cancer, care homes and drugs.
So the fact she was presenting a news bulletin the night following the Nice attacks seems a fairly strange reason for Kelvin MacKenzie to splutter into his wine. But so he did.
“Was it done to stick one in the eye of the ordinary viewer?” the former Sun editor demanded in his column for the paper as he blasted Channel 4’s “editorial stupidity”.
What had Manji done to incur such wrath? It all comes down to a piece of cloth – Manji wears a headscarf.
“Why did Channel 4 have a presenter in a hijab fronting coverage of Muslim terror in nice?
“Was it appropriate for her to be on camera when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a 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?”
MacKenzie then travelled back in time to the 1980s to ask his readers whether Channel 4 would have “used a Hindu” to report on the siege of the Golden Temple of Amritsar, or an Orthodox Jew to cover the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The Sun tweeted out MacKenzie’s story with the headline: “Why did Channel 4 have a presenter in a hijab fronting coverage of Muslim terror in Nice?” It later deleted the tweet.
They’ve deleted this tweet now pic.twitter.com/1W7FCmGyvx
— kadhim (@kadhimshubber) July 18, 2016
MacKenzie, of course, knows all about the ethics of reporting on disasters – he was the editor of The Sun at the time of the Hillsborough tragedy and blamed the fans.
For someone so apparently concerned about Muslim women’s welfare, it seems strange that MacKenzie chose to attack a role model for visibly Muslim women in the media.
Not only is Manji clearly not a “slave” but a professional journalist with a track record of balanced coverage, she was a panellist at a conference on Breaking Into Journalism, where she noted, “male voices are often the ones that get heard”, and that, “there is a lack of confidence among women and minorities”. After McKenzie’s decision to single her out in a national newspaper, maybe that lack of confidence is justified.
5 other things that shouldn’t happen in reporting, according to the logic of Kelvin McKenzie:
- An Englishman covering the Scottish independence referendum
- A Scotsman covering the Scottish independence referendum
- A Christian covering an abortion debate
- A man covering, erm, pretty much any mass shooting or murder
- A Sun journalist covering the Hillsborough verdict