Sep 27 2011
Can Marian Sobh, a Muslim woman who wears a headbag (hijab), actually be capable of reporting the news on television in America? (She can, if the news station doesn’t mind losing most of its audience whenever she’s on the air)
Womens e-news I always thought the answer was a strong and resounding YES! Because I was that Muslim woman wearing hijab, and I was going to do it. I was going to break the barrier and get out there and pursue my dream.
I finished my master’s in broadcast journalism and worked in radio and for the university television station during both undergraduate and graduate school. On paper, I seemed bound for broadcast success. I had internships in radio and television in town. I was even the commencement speaker at our graduation ceremony. People raved about my work and patted me on the back. Nothing ever made me feel I could not make it in my field.
Yet once in a while, a nagging voice in the back of my mind would make me feel self-conscious about my hijab. One of my classmates had once asked me, “What will you do if you don’t get hired because of your headscarf?” I confidently responded, “Sue them!” (Ah yes, the infamous litigation jihad used by CAIR every time a muslim doesn’t get a job because her headbag offends Americans)
I started to realize not all was going as planned when I began applying for jobs in television. Every time I sent someone my resume and demo tape, there was no response…until I received a phone call from a news director in Negaunee, Mich.”Do you have a job yet?” the news director asked me. I was literally speechless. I told him that I’d love to come out for an interview. The news director looked over my demo tape (see below) with me and said he was impressed. Could this be my big break?
Oddly, the news director never asked me about my skills or my professional experience. He said, “I’ll give you a call at the end of the week and let you know what we decide.” The phone call came and I was devastated. “I think you’re too good for this place. You need to go to a bigger town. You wouldn’t like the winter here, anyway.” My self-esteem took a huge hit. Was it my skills, or was it my scarf? (It was your scarf and what it represents)
Since television has expanded in the past decade, we now see all kinds of people on the air: skinny, plump, homely, beautiful and ethnically diverse. There is still, however, a lack of representation for anyone who happens to wear their religious identity openly. (Gee, I wonder if that’s because seeing a Muslim Baghead on the TV news reminds them of the Palestinians bagheads they saw on the news celebrating 9/11?)
Certainly, I understand the argument that you can’t show your religious affiliation on television because people might start thinking you’re biased a certain way. Doesn’t reflecting one’s religious identity mean we’ll hold those journalists up to a higher standard because they must ensure their work doesn’t reflect any personal bias? (Muslims can’t NOT reflect their personal bias because they are loyal to Islam first, not America)
Knowing my religious identity, don’t you think I would hold myself to a higher standard? Furthermore, why the assumption that wearing a headscarf means I want to report on religious issues? (No, it means you want people to know you think your customs are superior to theirs) I’m perfectly content reporting on education, entertainment, health and environmental stories.(As long as you don’t have wear short sleeves, report on Texas pig races, or work during Ramadan)
I knew deep inside that if I took my scarf off, I’d be welcomed with open arms. (You could always work for PressTV or al-Jazeera)