LISTEN: Muslim Presenters Clash Over Hijabs In Newsroom, Free Speech

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By Kieran Corcoran | 7:25 am, October 20, 2016

Two of the UK’s most prominent Muslim journalists forcefully clashed on air over whether religious symbols like the hijab should be allowed in the newsroom.

Mishal Husain – the first Muslim to present the flagship Today programme – debated Channel 4’s Fatima Manji, who is at the centre of a racism row after being criticised for wearing her hijab while presenting the TV news.

Today – usually a bastion of liberal received opinion – really took its guest to task over the issue – listen below:

Husain threw Manji hard questions, vigorously putting the case in favour of The Sun for a column by former editor Kelvin McKenzie, which contended that it was a mistake for Manji to be allowed to present an item on the Nice terror attacks while in Islamic religious dress.

While Manji said she supports “personal choice” in what presenters wear, she ducked the chance to say she’d be happy with a Christian newsreaders wearing a cross, or orthodox Jews in traditional dress reporting on Israel/Palestine.

Husain contended that opinions like McKenzie’s being aired are a “necessary” consequence of a free press – but Manji ultimately disagreed saying that a “civilised” society must “accept that freedom of speech has limits”.

The exchange is fascinating not least because of the dynamic between the speakers

Since Husain is a Muslim woman herself, it will be difficult to anybody to characterise her points as coming from ignorance, sexism or Islamophobia – and will have to consider her points directly, outside of the hysteria which can dominate discussions like this.