In July, Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of one of Britain’s most notorious tabloids, The Sun, penned a column criticizing a British-Muslim journalist for covering the terror attacks in Nice, France, while wearing the hijab – the traditional head covering for Muslim women.
In his piece, which reeked of Islamophobia, MacKenzie implied Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji was sympathetic to the terrorist. Of course, it was as serious an accusation as it was absurd.
Rightfully offended by the column, Manji filed a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), the UK’s press regulating authority, against MacKenzie.
However, this week, the Ipso cleared MacKenzie of his attack, a decision that Manji says indicates “open season” on minorities.
"I think the fact that Kelvin MacKenzie can write a column and suggest that I am somehow sympathetic to a perpetrator of a terrorist attack,” she told BBC Radio 4's Today program. “That somehow I am not like the rest of us, that I am the other, means that other people are now open to attack."
“What Ipso has done is effectively sent out the green light for newspapers to attack minorities and Muslims in particular. To know … that it is effectively open season on minorities on Muslims and minorities in particular is frightening,” she added.
The Ipso, in its ruling, declared MacKenzie was "entitled to express" to his views (notwithstanding how incendiary they were).
"The article did not include a prejudicial or pejorative reference to the complainant on the grounds of religion,” the ruling stated. “While the columnist's opinion was undoubtedly offensive to the complainant, and to others, these were views he had been entitled to express."
While Ipso’s stance on freedom of speech is understandable, the authority’s ruling simply ignores the fact that MacKenzie didn’t only made an offensive statement, he also accused Manji of being sympathetic to terrorists, which is a serious, and not to mention, an entirely false accusation.