Complaints have been pouring in against The Sun's former editor and current columnist Kelvin MacKenzie who criticised a television channel for allowing a journalist to present a report on the Nice truck attack while wearing a hijab. The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) has received hundreds of complaints about the remarks.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former Conservative Party chairman and foreign minister, criticised the newspaper column and termed it "divisive". She has reportedly conveyed her thoughts to The Sun's editor-in-chief Tony Gallagher in a letter.
In his column published on Monday (18 July), the former editor of the newspaper MacKenzie, questioned Channel 4 News' decision to allow journalist Fatima Manji to present news on the terror attack in France while wearing the traditional Muslim head covering. He argued whether it was "appropriate" for the Muslim woman to appear on camera to report about the brutal massacre carried out by a Muslim. In response to the article, Channel 4 News said in a statement that MacKenzie's comments were "offensive" and "completely unacceptable". They also accused him of inciting religious and racial hatred.
"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," a statement by the news channel read.
"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."
Warsi also echoed similar views in her letter to The Sun's editor-in-chief. She 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."
She also shared the letter on Twitter and tweeted Muslim writer Anila Baig's comments, in which the author had said, "The fact that Fatima can present a news bulletin and also wears a headscarf shows how great Britain is."
Earlier, The Sun had posted an image of Manji on Twitter with the question, "Why did Channel 4 have a presenter in a hijab fronting coverage of Muslim terror in Nice?" However, the paper deleted the tweet following the controversy, The Guardian reported.
On 14 July, Tunisian national Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel rammed a truck into large crowds who had gathered on the Promenade des Anglais in the French Riviera city to celebrate Bastille Day. The massacre claimed 84 lives, while many were critically injured. It is being suspected that the killer could have been radicalised by Islamic State (Isis), who have claimed responsibility for the attack saying the driver was "one of our soldiers".