Channel 4 presenter Fatima Manji was left with “tears in my eyes” after being racially abused by a young boy in London in an incident that left her questioning how someone so young could be so hateful.
Manji, who was attacked in The Sun by Kelvin Mackenzie for wearing a hijab while reporting on the Nice terror attacks last year, tweeted about her encounter on Tuesday night, saying that she was “racially abused” by what looked like a 12-year-old while walking home from work.
Manji said the boy repeated the abuse when she asked him what he said.
“He randomly abuses me as I’m walking down street, going home from work,” she wrote.
Manji said the exchange upset her on many fronts. The boy’s age, the lack of recourse and that racism “appears to be being taught and learned at the greatest rate in the UK since my childhood”.
Anti-hate charity Tell Mama was first to reply to Manji’s initial tweet, expressing despair that she had been abused.
Tell Mama director Iman Atta told HuffPost UK: “The abuse against Fatima Manji seems to have been unsolicited and where she was walking in a public place.
“The fact that a young boy can spew such racist hatred shows that some of this has been picked up and learnt and more than likely from a home, school or other environment where these words are said and go unchallenged. The incident shows how important it is for schools and education environments to create frameworks where such behaviour and language are challenged.”
A report published by Hope not Hate last week found that Britons’ attitudes towards Muslims and Islam had “worsened” with more than half of all respondents to a new survey believing the religion “poses a threat” to the West.
“The fear and hostility displayed towards Muslims is deeply worrying, despite most people claiming that they stand firm against extremists’ attempt to conflate their heinous actions with that of an entire religion,” Hope not Hate chief executive Nick Lowles said of the finding’s of the charity’s Fear And Hope 2017 report.
“Clearly there is a lot of work to be done here, both by those tackling hate crimes and misinformation, and potentially by Muslim communities themselves.”
The report, based on a Populus survey of 4,000 people in “six identity tribes” across England, found that 52% of respondents believe Islam “poses a threat to the West”. As a result of recent terror attacks 42% of those surveyed were now “more suspicious” of Muslims and a quarter of Brits believe Islam is a “dangerous religion that incites violence”.
Manji concluded a string of Tweets on the incident by thanking “all of you who have messaged in support and solidarity”. Her account prompted an outpouring of disbelief, outrage and offers of support.
The Sun was bombarded with complaints in July 2016 over MacKenzie’s column that claimed it was not appropriate for a “young lady wearing a hijab” to cover the killings which left more than 80 dead.
Ipso later cleared MacKenzie over any wrong doing, something that Manji said would herald an “open season on Muslims”.
“But now to know that has been given the green light by the press regulator and that effectively it is open season on minorities, and Muslims in particular, is frightening,” Manji said at the time.