Former Peterborough schoolgirl at centre of critical Sun column for wearing hijab during Nice attack coverage

Fatima Manji
Fatima Manji
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A former Peterborough schoolgirl is at the centre of a critical column in The Sun after Channel 4 let her front its coverage of the Nice terror attack while wearing a hijab.

Kelvin MacKenzie, writing in today’s Sun (Monday, July 18), says he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw Fatima Manji, who attended Jack Hunt School, on his TV screen after Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel killed 84 people by driving a lorry through a crowd.

However, Channel 4 said his comments are arguably tantamount to inciting religious hatred.

Mr MacKenzie, who was responsible for The Sun’s infamous ‘The Truth’ headline after the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989, when he was the paper’s editor, wrote: “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?

“Would the C4 editor have used a Hindu to report on the carnage at the Golden Temple of Amritsar? Of course not.”

Mr MacKenzie said if Ms Manji had been sent to report in Nice wearing a hijab it would be viewed as “massively provocative” by the city’s residents.

In response, a spokeswoman for Channel 4 News said: “The comments published in The Sun today by Mr MacKenzie are offensive, completely unacceptable, and arguably tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred.

“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.”

In response Abdul Choudhuri, chairman of the Faizan-e-Madinah Mosque, called for the Government to hold an inquiry into The Sun for its negative comments against Muslims.

He said: “There should be an inquiry into the gutter press using this sort of language. This is totally unacceptable. The media secretary should take action.

“I say yes there should be freedom of the press, but you should have responsibility as well.

“The Sun has its own agenda creating friction and disharmony.”

Mr Choudhuri highlighted the many efforts the Muslim community makes to promote peace and integration in Peterborough and said Muslims condemn terrorist attacks as much as people from other faiths.

He added: “All the Muslims condemn what happened in Nice without any reservation. We have sympathy with the victims.

“I made a speech at Friday prayer condemning the action of the individual who did this.

“I do not see anything wrong whatsoever with a lady wearing a hijab presenting a programme. Millions of women who wear a hijab have nothing to do with terrorism.

“Wearing a hijab is their own choice and has not been forced on them.”