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Palestinian anchor sues US-based channel for anti-hijab discrimination

The Palestinian journalist has sued the US-based Al-Hurra channel [Instagram]

Date of publication: 5 May, 2020

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Raeda Hamra has filed a lawsuit against the US-based Arabic language news channel for allegedly discriminating against her because she wore a headscarf.
A Palestinian journalist and broadcaster has filed a lawsuit against the US-based Al-Hurra television channel for discrimination, reports confirmed, after she was allegedly rejected for an anchor position because she wears a hijab.

Raeda Hamra said she was prevented from taking part in a pilot anchor test for the Arabic-language channel two years ago because the channel allegedly "did not want a veiled woman on screen".

She soon filed a complaint and is expected to present her case to a US court in the coming weeks, according to Arabi21.

The case dates back to 2018 after Jordanian media worker Nart Buran took position as head of the channel's news department, the report adds.

Buran has since moved to the UAE to take up the role of director at the Abu Dhabi government-linked International Global Investments, an organisation which includes Sky News.

Discrimination against hijab-wearing Muslim woman is not new in the US.

Last month, a Muslim woman accused New York police of demanding she remove her hijab for a photo after allegedly committing a driving offence, launching a federal civil rights lawsuit against the force.

The incident reportedly occurred in August 2019, when Ihsan Malkawi and her husband were arrested in New York's Yonkers, Westchester County "on false allegations of abuse" which her attorney said were later unfounded, NBC News reports.

Malkawi alleges that a female officer escorted her from her cell and told her to remove her hijab for a booking photo.

Malkawi refused, telling the police officer that it was an article of her faith. After consulting a male supervisor, she was told to remove the scarf anyway because "it's the law".

She called the experience "demeaning and humiliating".

Asking Muslim women to remove their head scarves is a common practice in that part of New York, though it has been ruled unconstitutional in other parts of the country, her attorney said.

After spending a night in jail, Malkawi was taken to a second prison for processing where she was once again photographed without her hijab, and forced to wear a short-sleeved shirt, the lawsuit alleges.

However, in February, the US was praised for its move to permit hijab-wearing Muslims, as well as those who don a beard for religious purposes, into the United States Air Force.

Headscarves must resemble the pilot's uniform, typically in colours such as black, brown, green or blue.

The update to the Air Force's code for "dress and personal appearance" will allow airmen to ask for a waiver to wear religious apparel.

The apparel has to be "neat and conservative" and present a professional appearance, according to Air Force Times.

If such a waiver is filed, it can only be denied if the policy "furthers a compelling government interest".

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