The Channel 4 News journalist Fatima Manji has become the first hijabi to present a domestic TV News bulletin on one of the country’s major channels.
Manji presented a series of stories on last night’s shortened bank holiday show ranging from the bomb attack against Christians in Pakistan to the Nick Blackwell/Chris Eubank fight to the weather.
The programme’s main presenters are usually Jon Snow, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Matt Frei and Cathy Newman.
Manji joined Channel 4 News in January 2012 and since then has worked on a variety of stories including the NatWest banking problems and returning to her own school to look at job prospects for school leavers.
Before this Fatima was a reporter, presenter and video journalist for the BBC in the East of England, where she investigated stories including exploitative landlords and hate crime against migrants.
Channel 4 News is generally considered one of the fairer broadcasters by the British Muslim community and was particularly commended for its coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza in 2014. However, much trust was lost last year when one of its presenters, Cathy Newman, was branded a liar after she said she’d been ushered out of a mosque.
Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation said the move showed that religious Muslims could be accepted as part and parcel of the fabric of British society.
“I think this is a really positive move by Channel 4 News and will go some way to making amends after the Cathy Newman affair,” he said. “People like Mishal Husain have had very successful careers at the BBC but she isn’t perceived as religious so perhaps she finds it easier to be accepted. But young Muslim girls will look at Fatima, who wears the hijab, and will think ‘I can make it in the media too.'”
He added: “I think Muslims are generally under-represented in the media because it is considered so Islamophobic and so dominated by white males so hopefully this is a step in the right direction.”