The end of everything French Global Voices

Screenshot from a Youtube video showing the first veiled Algerian news anchor since independence from French occupation.

This article was first published by Raseef22 on February 25, 2022. An edited version is republished through a partnership with Global Voices.

For the first time in half a century, Algerians watched a a news anchor with a headscarf gives a brief glimpse on state television on the morning of February 15, 2022. This was widely seen by Algerians as a historic event, after the station breached the restriction on wearing headscarves on public television.

Since the day Algeria gained independence from French occupation on July 5, 1962 and regained sovereignty over its radio and television buildings on October 28, 1962, Najwa Gedi is considered the first hijabi to present the bulletin of information.

Algerian TV presenter and main newscaster Said Toubal posted on his official Facebook page, saying:

For the first time after independence, Algerian public television gives a place to hijabi women in news bulletins, and its colleague Najwa Jedi shines brightly in her presentation.

Headscarves are prohibited

A member of the National Syndicate of Algerian Journalists (SNJ), Reda Jawadi, claims that Algerian television “has not allowed women wearing headgear to appear on screen for more than half a century since the restoration of full sovereignty over state radio and television despite the fact that Islam is the state religion.

Speaking to Raseef22, Jawadi said: “The mentality of banning the appearance of the headscarf on the screen is a mentality inherited from the orchestrators of this public institution, and there is no law inside the building. of the television station which prohibits the appearance of veiled women on the screen, but rather these are instructions inherited.

He added:

The headscarf was banned from television due to personal convictions and improvised decisions issued by the successive officials responsible for the management and management of Algerian state television since independence, and this of course, under the impetus successive governments very satisfied with this policy.

Reda Jawadi said: “The final stage of television marks the start of offering thousands of female graduates of the country’s media and communication schools and veiled women who aspire to appear in the media, the opportunity to work in the state television building on Al-Shuhada Street. , or at one of its regional institutions across the state”.

The female body on screen

Despite the restoration of French sovereignty over television and radio on October 28, 1962, Yamin Boudhan, a professor of media at Qatar University, argues in his comments to Raseef22 that all successive media and television decision makers ” have inherited European thought both in appearance and presentation.”

In their eyes, the headscarf is “a backward and uncivilized image, an idea inherited from French thought”, he said, citing French policies widely seen as intolerant of Muslim traditions and practices. He added that it is unfortunate that this way of thinking, which he described as “seeking to destroy the Algerian identity from the depths of Algerian society”, has continued for more than a year. half a century, even after independence.

In an interview with Raseef22, he went on to add that the promoted image of a female body “had been crucial to appearing on television, and it had been important to show important aspects of women as an image or reflection of civilization and in order to attract viewers, and this is what Algerian television has focused on throughout this period.

Veil? Don’t even dream of a job

According to Boudhan, this made the dream of hijabi women to work in Algerian public television “a far-fetched fantasy and a near impossibility, so that all women who graduated from media and communication departments in Algeria ended up working in the administration or education, and those who want to specialize in the field end up going to radio, news agencies and various newspapers.

Algerian journalist Sabah Boudras, who has been teaching in Sweden for more than four years, confirms that she “applied to work for Algerian public television, but her application was rejected during her first interview because of the hijab”.

In a statement to Raseef22, Boudras attests that:

The response was harsh and direct, and openly linked to the hijab with the words: “You want to work in the news department and present news bulletins… Don’t even dream of it because it won’t happen. If you want to work, you have to work in the Al-Qur’an Al-Kareem channel (Koranic television)’.

Sabah then adds: “I love newsletters, so how can I do to work in another sector, and why was it prohibited? Why are veiled women’s hopes and dreams of being creative and appearing in the media shattered and ruined by the official Algerian channel?

For this reason and for other reasons in the field of education in which she worked, Sabah Boudras decided to leave her native country and move to Sweden, where she currently works in the education sector and creates reports for Arab channels from there, and by On the other hand, the headscarf did not oppose any of this.

pull hijabis

Back in Algeria, a number of female journalists decided to wear the hijab on Algerian public television, but were prevented from presenting news and even non-news programs.

Naima Majer, an Algerian media personality, is the first Algerian television presenter to wear the hijab, specifically during the month of Ramadan in the year 1994. But then she was prevented from appearing on screen simply because she wore the hijab.

Naima Madjer said in an interview with Raseef22:

I was very pleased with the appearance of Najwa Jedi wearing the hijab on state television, a move we had been waiting for many years as the ban was the dominant position in the halls of the television station.

She adds that this appearance “takes us back to 1994 when I decided to wear the hijab. At that time, I was prevented from continuing my TV shows and interviews for which there was an audience, and I was content with administrative work inside the TV building. [Despite being taken off air]to this day, I have not regretted my decision to don the headscarf.

But, she says: “I relived the pain that veiled women in Algeria feel, every time I tried to fulfill their wish to present on public television. I am ready to resume presenting and broadcasting news following the television’s decision to lift the ban with the television appearance of hijabi presenter Najwa Jedi.

Many female journalists and media personalities from Algerian television have been suspended from appearing on screen because of the hijab, including Naima Madjer, Nassira Mazhoud, Iman Mahjoubi, Houria Harath and Sawsan ben Habib, according to Algerian platform Ouras. .

The appearance of the headscarf on the news bulletins of Algerian public television will give hope to media graduates and those who love journalistic work to be able to access this public media institution.

But there are also fears of other impromptu decisions that could come at any time to ban the hijab again, as long as the regulations are improvised and the decisions are arbitrary, without any real legal basis within the institution.

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