The firing of three veiled presenters from Moroccan radio station Casa FM has highlighted the issue of an implicit ban being slapped on veiled women working in different media outlets in the Arab country.
Veiled TV presenter Samia Al-Maghrawy said her seniors started treating her differently when she donned the veil: “They seemed to be embarrassed of me and stopped assigning me out-of-country work.”
“To save my face and avoid troubles with the administration, I decided to work in the editorial board so that I would not have to be on screen.
Media woman Wafaa Al-Hamry accused the government of applying double standards in the way it deals with this issue: "There is no law banning a veiled woman from having an on-screen job, but when she applies, and even though she might have all the qualifications, she doesn't get the job," she told AlArabiya.net.
All veiled women who work in the media, Al-Hamry adds, know that they will only be allowed to work as editors or directors, “anything behind the screen”.
Media expert Yehia al-Yehiawy is surprised at the ban since the media is supposed to enjoy freedom and diversity.
In an interview with Al-Arabiya.net, Yehiawy said that most Moroccan public channels want to convey their own ideologies that, in turn, will have an effect on the audience. A veiled presenter might not serve this strategy.
For Yehiawy, the ban will lead to more polarity: "One group will promote a media dedicated to dancing and singing and all cheap commercial aspects that seek fast gain, while the other will think of the media as only a means of conveying social and religious messages."
Writer Aziz Bakoush told AlArabiya.net that the veil phenomenon is new to Moroccan media: "It is mainly related to Islamizing politics or political Islam."
"Some Arab countries -- and Morocco is one of them -- deal with the veil as a sign of extremism," he adds.
"The ban solution is very Arab, and the problem is that there are no clear laws that define the boundaries. Banning, regardless of what is being banned, was never a good idea."
Bakoush poses a series of questions in this regard: "What kind of veil do we mean? Is it the Afghani face veil or the Iranian shadour? Is it the Sarajevo veil? Or is it Moroccan and North African veil with a head scarf and skin-tight jeans?"
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)