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ITN And Reporter Complain To Press Watchdog Over Sun Columnist's Muslim "Smear"

Both Fatima Manji and ITN have filed complaints with Ipso, the press regulator.

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Both ITN and its reporter Fatima Manji have made official complaints to Ipso, the press watchdog, over a column published in The Sun by columnist Kelvin MacKenzie.

In the piece he asked why Manji, a Muslim Channel 4 News reporter, anchored the coverage of the recent attack in Nice.

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In a statement the broadcaster said it "cannot accept an employee being singled out on the basis of her religion".

Statement from Channel 4 News editor @bendepear regarding our correspondent @fatimamanji and @TheSun newspaper:

Shortly after presenting the show, Manji said she had been scheduled to co-anchor that night all along — and not because of the news in Nice.

And to those asking, yes my presenting tonight was long planned - had thought it might be a quiet Friday, instead very tragic

Channel 4 News defended its award-winning journalist, who has been working for the programme for nearly five years.

Our statement on @TheSun's column on @fatimamanji

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House of Lords member Baroness Sayeeda Warsi also wrote a letter asking the editor of The Sun, Tony Gallagher, to "exercise his role as an editor responsibly".

My letter to @tonygallagher Respectable racism and editorial responsibility!

"The divisive column which once again is an attempt to 'other' the Muslim community may sell a few papers but the consequences are felt by ... victims of the daily tragic incidents of hate crime," Warsi wrote in the letter. "It's this kind of 'respectable' racism that feeds the far right and legitimises the fallout we have all too sadly seen on our streets in recent weeks."

Senior media figures were also critical of the column, and more than 1,400 complaints about it have also been registered with Ipso by members of the public.

Have lot of time for @tonygallagher but Kelvin Mackenzie column abt the excellent @fatimamanji anchoring Nice coverage is pretty despicable

Incredible bigotry by Kelvin Mackenzie in his column today

On Tuesday, Manji responded in an opinion piece in the Liverpool Echo.

THE TRUTH: I'm here to stay, Kelvin MacKenzie https://t.co/5cw82GpCKL

Her choice of publication was seen as a symbolic gesture. People in the city of Liverpool have boycotted The Sun for nearly 30 years, after it published an article (under MacKenzie's editorship) titled "The Truth," which incorrectly claimed that football fans at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which cost 96 supporters their lives, had stolen from the dead and urinated on police officers.

She wrote: "It would be easy to dismiss Kelvin MacKenzie as an embarrassing, and serially embarrassed, relic of a bygone era in British journalism."

"The Sun, you will recall, is the newspaper that appears at ease with its columnists describing refugees dying at sea as 'cockroaches'," she continued.

"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 sympathise with a terrorist."

She went on: "THE TRUTH? I confess. I pi**ed on Kelvin MacKenzie’s apparent ambitions to force anyone who looks a little different off our screens, and I’ll keep doing it."

At the time, spokesperson for the Sun declined to comment but pointed to a column by Anila Baig, one of the paper's Muslim writers. In the column, published the day after MacKenzie's column, she wrote that to "accuse [Manji] of being representative of ALL Muslims – including mentally ill ones who commit abhorrent heinous acts – is ridiculous".

However, on Friday MacKenzie defended his column as "reasonable", blaming the "Twerperati" for attacking him after asking "a simple question".

Contact Ikran Dahir at ikran.dahir@buzzfeed.com.

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