Conservative British columnist Kelvin Mackenzie has received tremendous backlash from the Muslim community and its allies for penning a column which derides Channel 4 for poor editorial choice.
Mackenzie wrote in The Sun that the news channel should not have allowed a hijabi woman to report the Bastille Day attack in Nice back in July.
Channel 4 news anchor, Fatima Manji, was directly called out by Mackenzie simply for wearing a headscarf while doing her job.
The right wing columnist decried that it was insensitive for Channel 4 to opt for a Muslim woman to report on an incident which officials are blaming on the Islamic State. He wrote:
“Was it done to stick one in the eye of the ordinary viewer who looks at the hijab as a sign of the slavery of Muslim women by a male-dominated and clearly violent religion?”
Time and time again, Muslims around the world are confused with religious militants. That Manji would sympathize with a terrorist simply because she is Muslim is a deliberate smear campaign against Islam.
Instead of acknowledging that Manji was, in fact, undermining Daesh directives by showing herself as an observant Muslim woman on television, Mackenzie completely missed the memo. If he did get the memo, he probably tore it to shreds while laughing maniacally.
On July 19, the news anchor wrote a letter back to him standing up for herself. She reminds the public the following:
“…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.”
For me, wearing hijab is a privilege. It’s not a symbol of oppression in Islam. It’s not a symbol of enslavement. And wearing it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
We still don’t know what could happen with this presidential election, although it’s not looking too great. It’s quite possible that our next president of the United States wishes to take away our rights as Muslim Americans, making it difficult, if not worse, to wear our clothing of choice.
But we don’t need to wait until Donald Trump is elected to office to face the brunt of Islamophobia; the frequency of hate crimes towards Muslims is the highest it’s been in years.
Even in a supposedly secular democracy, nothing can be taken as a right. Rights can be taken away.
I don’t have a solution for normalizing Muslims in the West and I acknowledge the millions of sisters who choose not to wear hijab, and that’s fine.
But for those of us that do, no matter how good you are at taking Islamophobia on the chin, remember that you are privileged, and wearing hijab is something that can be taken away by an elected government.