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Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie's hijab remarks about Channel 4 News reporter spark 1400 complaints

Published 19/07/2016

People stand on July 15, 2016 in front of flowers and candles placed near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people.
AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVATBORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images
People stand on July 15, 2016 in front of flowers and candles placed near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVATBORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images

The press regulator has received more than 1,400 complaints about remarks by The Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie criticising Channel 4 News for using a journalist wearing a hijab to present a report on the Nice massacre.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) said the complaints, which still have to be assessed, have related to accuracy, harassment and discrimination.

Mr MacKenzie, a former editor of the newspaper, questioned whether it was right that Fatima Manji, a journalist who wears the traditional Muslim head covering, should have been allowed to appear on screen during Friday's programme.

Claiming he could "hardly believe my eyes", Mr MacKenzie asked in his Monday column: "Was it appropriate for her to be on camera when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim?"

French-Tunisian father-of-three Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a hired lorry through crowds gathered on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice to celebrate Bastille Day on Thursday. He killed 84 people and injured dozens more before he was shot dead by police.

Ms Manji, writing in the Liverpool Echo, said she is "not expecting an apology from him any time soon".

She added: "I was grief-stricken by the massacre in Nice, particularly by the haunting image of a little girl's corpse laying next to the doll that was once her companion.

"Mr MacKenzie seemed to find my appearance on his screen equally horrific."

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In a statement, Channel 4 News described Mr MacKenzie's comments published in The Sun as "offensive, completely unacceptable, and arguably tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred".

Forensics officers and policemen look for evidence near a truck on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Forensics officers and policemen look for evidence near a truck on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Killer: Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel
A sign reading "Liberty, equality, fraternity, let us unite against barbarism" is placed on July 15, 2016 at a makeshift memorial near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVATBORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images
A woman places flowers on July 15, 2016 near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVATBORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A woman looks at a truck stand guarded by the police on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016, hours after it drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display. An attack in Nice where a man rammed a truck into a crowd of people left 84 dead and another 18 in a "critical condition", interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said Friday. An unidentified gunman barrelled the truck two kilometres (1.3 miles) through a crowd that had been enjoying a fireworks display for France's national day before being shot dead by police. / AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULATANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images
People stand on July 15, 2016 in front of flowers and candles placed near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVATBORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images
Forensic police work on the scene of a truck attack in Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
The truck which slammed into revelers late Thursday is seen at the site of the attack in Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Forensic officers stands near a truck with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
The truck which slammed into revelers late Thursday, July 14, is seen near the site of an attack in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A forensic officer stands near a van with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. At least 80 people were killed before police killed the driver, authorities said. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Forensic officers at the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Twitter feed video grab courtesy of @harp_detectives of people running away after dozens of people are believed to have been killed when a lorry ploughed into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice. Photo credit: @harp_detectives/PA Wire
Fire department ambulances and vehicles are parked near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Christian Alminana)
Police officers, firefighters and rescue workers are seen at the site of an attack on July 15, 2016, after a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Emergency services vehicles work on the scene after a truck, left, plowed through Bastille Day revelers in the French resort city of Nice, France, Thursday, July 14, 2016. (Sasha Goldsmith via AP)
Authorities investigate a truck after it plowed through Bastille Day revelers in the French resort city of Nice, France, Thursday, July 14, 2016. (Sasha Goldsmith via AP)
Authorities investigate a truck after it plowed through Bastille Day revelers in the French resort city of Nice, France, Thursday, July 14, 2016. (Sasha Goldsmith via AP)
Ambulances line up near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A man runs near the scene of an attack after a truck drove onto the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Police officers seal off the area of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Ciaran Fahey)
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van, with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers and rescue workers arrive at the scene of an attack on July 14, 2016, after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers and firefighters arrive near the site of an attack on July 14, 2016, after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers speak with a soldier after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
A soldier stands guard near the site of an attack in the French Riviera town of Nice, after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
A man walks with his hands up as police officers carry out checks on people in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

It 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."

Former Conservative Party chairman and foreign minister Baroness Warsi wrote to The Sun's editor in chief Tony Gallagher, branding it a "divisive column".

In the letter, which she shared on Twitter, Baroness Warsi wrote: "Just as politicians should carry the responsibility for xenophobic and toxic campaigning that divides communities, so journalists should be held accountable for 'shock jock' writing which simply perpetuates stereotypes, demonises and attempts to hold a whole community accountable for the actions of an individual."

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

The newspaper published an online article by Muslim writer Anila Baig. She reflected on Mr MacKenzie's article which suggested the broadcaster had been deliberately provocative in putting Ms Manji in front of the camera on the day of the Nice attack.

Ms Baig described Ms Manji as "a professional who has been working for the programme for four years, not someone dragged in off the street just because she's wearing a scarf on her head".

Her article said: "The fact that Fatima can present a news bulletin and also wears a headscarf shows how great Britain is."

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