Remona Aly
Friday 21 October 2016 The Guardian

Is it ‘open season’ on Muslims? Our panel responds

After Kelvin MacKenzie spewed his anti-Muslim tripe into a sorry excuse for a column in the Sun, after 1,700 complaints to Ipso, and after social media outrage from politicians, journalists and activists alike, it appears that MacKenzie is getting off scot-free.

The feeble ruling from Ipso lets MacKenzie skip away into the sunset without reprimand or accountability, but he casts a long and sinister shadow. This whole Manji v MacKenzie fiasco sends out the alarming message that journalists – if they belong to a particular faith group – are fair game for overt discrimination and prejudice. It further sidelines those of ethnic minority and faith backgrounds in general, and those with media aspirations in particular. This is anything but good news for improving diversity in an industry which is currently 94% white, and 0.4% Muslim.

Manji has chillingly said: “It’s open season on Muslims.” It certainly feels like the Ipso outcome mandates an unofficial licence to hate: a frightening prospect in a climate where intolerance is brewing, and unsavoury characters are ready to pounce on any excuse for anti-Muslim abuse.

But as the struggle gets dirtier, the stronger we have to be to fight it. Manji has proved to be as tough as nails, and it’s her robust integrity that should encourage more women and men, those of faith and none, to blot out the bigotry by rejecting the propaganda and by proactively engaging in the media, or indeed in any sphere. We live in turbulent times, but here’s hoping it’s the storm before the eventual calm.

This article appeared as part of a panel, originally published on 21 October 2016. To read it click here.