Channel 4 newscaster Fatima Manji found herself at the centre of a racist furore earlier this year, when The Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie publicly criticised her wearing of a headscarf while reporting on terror attacks taking place in Nice.
Not one to take bullying lying down, however, Manji brilliantly hit back at both MacKenzie’s vitriol and the controversial press regulatory ruling, which claimed the columnist was ‘entitled’ to question the wearing of ‘religious symbols’ on TV.
Now, the award-winning journalist has spoken out again, this time to address the media’s current fixation with women who choose to wear a hijab.
In an interview with The Guardian, Manji confronted the ongoing dialogue about the clothes she chooses to wear, which often results in abusive messages from trolls on social media.
“For me it’s less about what people think than how happy I am with the outfit,” she says.
“At the moment, I’m excited by jumpsuits and dungarees. That sounds weird. But yes, sometimes people come out with all kinds of mad things, some of which are amusing, some of which are racist.”
She then moved on to discuss the media’s unbalanced representation of Muslim women who wear headscarves, and the way in which it contributes to the current climate of Islamophobia.
“There’s a fixation with my headgear, obviously, which I find tiring. Not just about me, but I’m so bored of media depictions of women in headscarves,” she explains.
“It’s either, ‘Oh, look at this terribly oppressed woman’, or, ‘Oh, how exciting, woman in headscarf can play football!’ Let’s just get over it.”
Manji, who joined Channel 4 as a reporter in 2012, also revealed that her ambitions to become a journalist began as young as eight.
But while her desire to be a part of history was one driving force, sadly, racial abuse was also another.
“I often say I made a really informed career decision at the age of eight. I wanted to be where history is made, I wanted to be in the centre of things,” she tells guardian.com.
“I have very early memories of reading broadsheets when they seemed really massive, and that statement in itself now feels so dated.
“When you’re a minority in a country, you are inevitably more exposed to politics because you’re having to understand why you look different and why you do certain things differently. Or why someone’s calling you a Paki, quite honestly.”
Images: Twitter/Channel 4 News