Egyptian life: On TV, in a veil
|Egyptian television presenter Ghada El Tawil was allowed back on air last week after a six-year absence, in which she won the legal right to wear an Islamic headscarf, known as hijab, on screen. She tells BBC News about her fight.
Ghada can wear what she likes on screen as long as it is doesn’t look ‘strange’
I have waited six years for this moment – to present television wearing my hijab.
I only started wearing it in 2002. The rule is, when a girl gets her first period, she has to cover her hair. I didn’t – but sometimes you don’t do many things you should.
But as the years passed, I began to feel I wanted to do what God wanted. I struggled for about a year, before deciding to wear it.
More and more women are wearing the hijab, especially here. Only one or two in 10 Alexandrian women are not covered, so I was part of a wider movement of change. But I don’t think I was aware of that at the time.
Cairo is different, because it is such a big, cosmopolitan city.
Anyway, when I put the hijab on in February 2002, I was banned from being on screen.
There have been many cases like this – female presenters losing their jobs when they want to wear the hijab on air. A colleague, Hala el-Malki and I were the first to take it to court.
We got two rulings in our favour, the most recent in July 2005. It said we could wear what we liked on screen so long as it wasn’t ‘strange’. It’s taken until now for our employers [Alexandria's Channel 5, a state channel] to apply it.
There are now five of us wearing the hijab on screen.
I don’t know for sure why the management doesn’t like us wearing it. Maybe they thought we belonged to a very religious group, or something. They never gave us a proper reason.
But the reality is, most women here cover their hair. I come from Alexandria and as a presenter, I now reflect and represent my audience more closely than before.
I present a discussion programme focussing on social issues, it’s mainly aimed at women. On my return to the programme last week, so many people congratulated me in live phone calls on air!
However, my employers still haven’t let me return to my other job of reading the English-language news bulletins. I did this job for 12 years before I was stopped – but now they said I needed to pass another test. I refused to take it on principle.
When I covered my hair, I didn’t lose my ability to read the news. I can’t see the point of the ban, can you? To let me do one of my previous jobs, but not the other.
I hope I will win this next case, too.
Category Archives: World
A recent visit to the corner Barnes & Noble store led me to a cozy corner near the magazine section where I picked up a copy of Swindle Magazine.
I love this magazine for their great artwork and neat articles. I happened to be drawn to this issue in particular because of the cover.
The issue focuses upon the city’s absorption of a rising Muslim population—and we feature the young Islamic artist Sarah Maple.
Here is an excerpt:
If you want to see where London’s future lies, look to its Muslim demographic. Today, about 40% of Britain’s Muslim population resides in London, where they make up just below 10% of the residents. And half of the city’s Muslim population is under 24—the youngest age profile in the capital. According to the BBC, over half of all British Muslims were born in the U.K., making this subgroup an increasingly intrinsic part of British society. “We’re the second generation, we’ve grown up here like the kids around us and we haven’t faced the strains most of our elders felt such as not understanding English,” says Warsan Nur, a 19-year-old anthropology student at the University of London, and aspiring journalist. “Racism isn’t so common because people are growing to accept us, so the possibilities for this Muslim generation are endless.”
Fore more visit: http://swindlemagazine.com/issue16/
The wonderful Eyes Over Africa shows aerial photographs by Michael Poliza, taken on an epic helicopter adventure from the north to the south of Africa.
Nile cruise ships, Luxor, Egypt. © Michael Poliza.
A Maasai market scene North-East of Maasai Mara, Kenya. © Michael Poliza.
Grassland plains in Northwest Katavi, Tanzania. © Michael Poliza.
Water meets land in Cabo Delgado, Mozamibique. © Michael Poliza.
Deserted flamingo nests in the red salty patches of the Pans, East of Kubu Island, Botswana. © Michael Poliza.
Publication shows candidate dressed as a Muslim, his wife as a terrorist…
WASHINGTON – Barack Obama‘s campaign says a satirical New Yorker magazine cover showing the Democratic presidential candidate dressed as a Muslim and his wife as a terrorist is “tasteless and offensive.”
The illustration on the issue that hits newsstands Monday, titled “The Politics of Fear” and drawn by Barry Blitt, depicts Barack Obama wearing traditional Muslim garb — sandals, robe and turban — and his wife, Michelle — dressed in camouflage, combat boots and an assault rifle strapped over her shoulder — standing in the Oval Office.
The couple is doing a fist tap in front of a fireplace in which an American flag is burning. Over the mantel hangs a portrait of Osama bin Laden.
“The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. “But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.”
In a statement Monday, the magazine said the cover “combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are.”
“The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall? All of them echo one attack or another. Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that’s the spirit of this cover,” the New Yorker statement said.
The statement also pointed to the two articles on Obama contained inside the magazine, calling them “very serious.”
Republican John McCain‘s campaign spokesman, Tucker Bonds, agreed that the cover was “tasteless and offensive.”
Wed 11 Jun 2008, 16:27 GMT
By Omar Hassan
DJIBOUTI, June 11 (Reuters) – Djibouti called up retired police and soldiers on Wednesday after a clash with Eritrean troops killed at least two and wounded 21 others on their shared border over looking strategic Red Sea shipping lanes.
Eritrea, without confirming or denying the clashes, dismissed Djibouti’s statements as “anti-Eritrean”.
The first fighting since 1996 between two of Africa’s smallest states broke out on Tuesday, after a nearly two-month standoff. Djibouti hosts French and U.S. military bases and is the main route to the sea for Eritrea’s arch-foe Ethiopia.
Djibouti said the clash began after Eritrean soldiers deserted and the Eritreans fired on them, prompting return fire. A second outbreak followed when Eritrean soldiers demanded their deserters back.
Fighting continued on Wednesday in the Mount Gabla area of northern Djibouti, Djibouti’s Defence Ministry said.
Police officers and soldiers who retired from 2004 to 2008 were ordered to reintegrate with their units, a government statement said.
Mount Gabla, also known as Ras Doumeira, overlooks the strategic Bab al-Mandib straits, which are a major shipping route to and from Europe and the Middle East.
Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry said it would not “get involved in an invitation of squabbles and acts of hostility”.
“(Djibouti) has been making continued futile attempts to drag the government of Eritrea into its concocted animosity,” a statement said.
A Reuters witness at a French hospital in Djibouti said helicopters had ferried in dead and wounded soldiers.
“PICKING A FIGHT”
In mid-April, Djibouti accused Eritrea of digging trenches and building fortifications on the Djiboutian side of the frontier. Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki told Reuters in a recent interview that was a “fabrication”.
“It’s just another case of Eritrea picking a fight and finding itself in a position of hostility towards the main Western players in the region,” said Patrick Smith, editor of the Africa Confidential newsletter.
“Eritrea is sending out a warning to Djibouti in particular saying if it chooses to go with Ethiopia then it’s opening itself up to conflict with Asmara,” he said.
Djibouti’s army says nearly 75 percent of its 11,000 troops are now along its boundary with Eritrea, which is one of Africa’s most militarised states and has more than 200,000 soldiers as part of a mandatory conscription programme.
Djibouti and Eritrea are two of Africa’s smallest nations with populations of 820,000 and 4.7 million respectively.
Djibouti hosts two foreign military bases, including one of France’s biggest overseas contingents and a U.S. counter-terrorism task force of about 2,000 soldiers — many of them elite special forces who work with Ethiopian troops.
Former colonial power France signed a mutual defence pact with Djibouti after independence in 1977.
It is also a vital route for landlocked Ethiopia, which has vowed to protect its shipping access in Djibouti if necessary.
Ethiopia blamed Eritrea for the clash.
“Ethiopia firmly believes that such unwarranted action should be stopped immediately and peaceful and diplomatic solution must be sought for the problem,” Bereket Simon, special adviser to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, told Reuters.
Djibouti has turned itself into a regional shipping hub after massive investment from Dubai.
Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a border war in 1998-2000 that killed 70,000 people, and lingering enmity has fuelled conflict in neighbouring Somalia and in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region. (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/ ) (Additional reporting by Jack Kimball in Asmara, Tsegaye Tadesse in Addis Ababa; Editing by Bryson Hull and Matthew Tostevin)
If you are reader of Zadie Smiths work like myself; you will be excited to know that Zadie Smith has edited a new book called :
The Book of Other People
In a nutshell…
Eclectic mix of authors showcase their different styles and media through the eyes of different characters. The result is a collection that is by turns poignant, comic and thought-provoking, but always engaging.
What it’s all about?
The Book of Other People is simply about character. The 23 authors who each render a character do so in a fantastic variety of ways, from short blurbs (Nick Hornby) through inner monologue (David Mitchell) to pictorial (Chris Ware). Equally the focus of the authors, who were asked to contribute a story each on a character in the name of a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting young creative writers, is similarly varied. In one instance we watch the expiration of a judge (Heidi Julavits), in another the perspective of a paranoid cultural critic (Jonathan Lethem), a giant (Dave Eggers) and, elsewhere, a child (Andrew Sean Greer), a mother (George Saunders) and a monster (Toby Litt).
The variety is one of the hooks and central tenets of the book, but there are some themes which recur. Family, love, loss, sanity and subjectivity are all explored through different eyes, with the one constant – character – exploring the interaction between the individual and the world.
Who’s it by?
Zadie Smith edits, collates and contributes one character; the other authors and their creations comprise the rest of the book in individual chapters:
Nick Hornby with Posy Simmonds
Jonathan Safran Foer
Andrew Sean Greer
As an example…
“I told her with courage and dignity. ‘I am here to bury my husband. Iraq. I’m not at liberty to tell you any more.’ Before my very eyes, she transformed into a real receptionist. She checked if a quieter, more spacious room, away from the conference wing, was available. Lo and behold, it was.”
(Judith Castle, David Mitchell)
“Being known by Magda is a messy and unavoidably carnal experience. All of us neighbours are known by Magda. Last time she knew me, she pushed me up against the side of my car.”
(Magda Madela, Hari Kunzru)
“He was, that first time, in what I would soon learn to call one of his ‘ellipsistic’ moods. Perkus Tooth himself later supplied that descriptive word: ellipsistic, derived from ellipsis. A species of blank interval, a nod or fugue in which he was neither depressed nor undepressed, not struggling to finish a thought or begin one. Merely between. Pause button pushed.”
(Perkus Tooth, Jonathan Lethem)
Likelihood of becoming a Hollywood Blockbuster
There is little doubt that some of the authors here have the potential to make it to the silver screen with their taut mini-plots and skillful, readily identifiable characterisation, but a film of the book as a whole would make for schizophrenic viewing.
What the others say
“If you are looking for the ideal Christmas present for a bookish relative, then look no further than this collection.” (The Scotsman)
So is it any good?
There are some pieces which seem to suggest the author decided not to overdo their contribution and certainly some characters, and indeed authors (Hornby), look insubstantial when placed in comparison with others. However, this is testament to the quality and variety of the authors on display. The chapters each have their own particular allure and the chocolate-box nature of the book adds to the pleasure of starting a new one.
As an introduction to some of modern fiction’s finest authors – Smith, Mitchell, Eggers – it captures the style and focus of their work, as well as offering a self-contained set of polished stories.
For those unfamiliar with genres such as Chris Ware’s poignant comic strip – to which I add myself – it is a fascinating snapshot of different approaches and reading the book is likely to spark a rash of purchases, as readers follow up their favourites and those they have not previously been acquainted with.
Reading the book is like walking through the National Portrait Gallery: some of the pictures you recognise, some are less familiar; some are in brilliant colour; some monochrome; some old, some new; some funny, some sad – but all done with a deft hand.
Published by Penguin, out November 1st, 287 pages, £16.99.
Fresh from collaborating with Kano, Craig David is set to return with a new album and single this autumn.
His fourth long-player ‘Trust Me’ hits the shelves on November 12 through Warners, with the single ‘Hot Stuff’ preceding it a week earlier.
‘Hot Stuff’ features a sample of the David Bowie classic ‘Let’s Dance’ – a move that will no doubt earn the track some much needed airplay.
‘Trust Me’ was recorded in Havana, Cuba with K T Tunstall producer Martin Terefe and is said to contain Cuban influences on album tracks.
A UK tour is being scheduled to coincide with the record’s release. I can’t wait…