Women-only Islamic TV launched in Egypt

| August 1, 2012 | Comments (0)

Ever since Hoda Shaarawi publicly removed her face veil in a political feminist act in 1923, the use of the niqab has become a minority fashion in Egypt. With the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s secular regime, the shift to more conservative Islamic values is beginning to be felt in Egypt. The launch of Maria TV, a television channel run and staffed exclusively by women wearing the niqab, is one of these major changes.

Getting its name from the Coptic Christian slave that the Prophet Muhammad married and freed, Maria TV opens more doors for Muslim women in Egypt who have faced discrimination in the job market because of their face veils. Controversy has surrounded the wearing of the niqab in recent years as some schools have banned the use of the face veil on campus and even barred niqab-wearing women from taking exams.

Abeer Shahin, a graduate of the American University in Cairo who had to contend with employers not wanting to hire her because of her niqab, is now a Maria TV anchor. Covered from head to toe except for her eyes, Shahin says: “It’s unfair to deal with veiled women as a standard religious housewife. No, she can be a doctor, a professor and an engineer.” She hopes that the channel will convey the message that “that there are successful women wearing niqab.”

From working the cameras to operating the video and camera equipment to deciding content to presenting to acting—it will be an all-woman show. Programming on Maria TV consists of news, talk shows, and investigative reports. Talk shows cover discussions on the first year of marriage and how to apply makeup—minus the actual demonstration.

Ahmed Abdallah, founder of Ummah TV, a religious satellite station catering to Muslim audiences all over the Middle East, is also the creator behind Maria TV. He considers the women-only Islamic television a triumph for fully-veiled women in Egypt “after years of discrimination and injustice.” He added: “I want to give children the ability to see these women and say ‘I want to be like that’… to create a generation that wants this and wants to be like this.”

Maria TV will air for six hours a day on Ummah TV. Only guests wearing the full Islamic garb will be featured—those who opt not to put on the niqab will have their faces blurred.

Tags: egypt, islam, Maria TV, niqab, Prophet Muhammed,

Category: Women in the World

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