World

PARIS – A columnist for The Sun, Kelvin Mackenzie, has made headlines with a controversial column asking why a Muslim presenter in a hijab covered the Nice attacks in France.

Fatima Manji, a Channel 4 news presenter who covered the recent attacks in Nice, was the target of Kelvin’s column, which has been slammed by many observers for being Islamophobic.

In his article he questioned,“Would the C4 editor have used a Hindu to report on the carnage at the Golden Temple of Amritsar? Of course not. Would the station have used an Orthodox Jew to cover the Israeli-Palestine conflict? Of course not.”

Referring to Manji as a ‘pawn’, he asked if she was chosen because of her religious beliefs “to stick one in the eye of the ordinary viewer.”

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Channel  4 news then issued a statement defending Manji, an award winning reporter who has been working with the channel for nearly five years. The broadcaster is also expected to file an official complaint with France’s press regulator. More than 1400 complaints regarding MacKenzie’s column have already been issued with Britain’s newspaper regulator, Ipso. Senior journalists have also taken to social media to criticize the column.

Fatima Manji, on Tuesday, submitted a response through a local UK newspaper the Liverpool Echo, saying: “It would be easy to dismiss Kelvin MacKenzie as an embarrassing, and serially embarrassed, relic of a bygone era in British journalism.”

She went on to say, “But it’s dangerous to regard Mr MacKenzie and those who echo his Islamophobic sentiments as mere pantomime villains. Their soapbox allows them to spread their ill-informed, irresponsible and malevolent invective to millions of readers. Racist and Islamophobic rhetoric has real consequences – lives have been lost and shattered in our own country.”

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She called out Kelvin’s column for spewing hate against her faith, “Kelvin MacKenzie 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 sympathize with a terrorist.”

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A truck attack on holiday crowds in Nice killed 84 people and injured several others last week. While Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Nice attack, no firm evidence has yet emerged that the 31-year-old attacker, a delivery van driver with a record of home violence and petty crimes, had direct contact with the group.