The exclusion of Moroccan veiled presenters from state TV has been stirring much controversy with many blaming them for not taking the necessary action against such discriminatory practices and others viewing the matter as blown out of proportion while official statements promise reform.
The debate that started after several veiled presenters complained of having been banned from appearing on state TV and which basically took place on the social networking website Facebook demonstrated the division of Moroccan activists over the issue.
One of the activists supported veiled presenters and agreed that they had been subjected to discrimination yet held them partly accountable for their condition.
“Veiled presenters are encouraging those oppressive measures by not taking the necessary actions to prevent this from happening,” he wrote.
“They have to go to court to protest the ban, which sometimes amounts to unjustified dismissal.”
Another activist begged to disagree and argued that veiled presenters were exaggerating the manner of the injustice to which they are subjected.
“Religious channels, like Channel Six, hire veiled presenters and the same applies to the Holy Quran radio station that bears the name of the Moroccan king,” he wrote.
The online controversy coincided with a pledge by the Minister of Telecommunications and the government’s official spokesman Mustafa al-Khalafi which is expected to reduce the tension.
“All kinds of discrimination against veiled presenters will be lifted,” he said in a meeting with the students of the Higher Institute of Media and Communications as reported by the Moroccan website febrayer.com.
“Veiled presenters will no longer be banned from doing their job.”
Khalafi’s statements were welcome by several presenters, especially as they were followed by the appearance of two veiled presenters on state TV.
For Fatiha al-Idrisi, a presenter at the MFM Souss d’Agadir radio station, seeing veiled presenters Nadia Liobi and Jalila Benfetan on Channel Two made her more hopeful about redressing the wrongs done to this group.
“Channel Two had been part of this discriminatory policy for a long time and I have personally been a victim of this exclusion for years because I am veiled,” she told Al Arabiya.
Idrisi added that she and her fellow veiled presenters have done their best to avoid this exclusion through countering the argument posed by state TV about the veil giving an impression of adopting certain ideological stances.
“We used to wear bright colors and elegant outfit to demonstrate that we can be veiled yet still look modern and presentable, yet we were still excluded.”
For Nadia al-Samarani, journalist at the Moroccan magazine Lalla Fatima, the way a presenter dresses has nothing to do with her performance and professional efficiency.
“We should give the chance to anyone who is talented regardless of their attire. Let every good presenter, whether veiled or not, contribute to the advancement of a type of Moroccan media we can be proud of,” she told Al Arabiya.
Several Moroccan veiled presenters are currently working in Arab satellite channels like Fatiha Daniel who works in Qatar Channel and Laila Fanani who works in the Islamic channel Iqraa.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)