Faraz Ashraf: Ghazala Ahmad, a 24-year-old final year student of Mass Communication at Aligarh Muslim University was told that she could not be accepted as an anchor at a Delhi based Hindi Media Channel and the reason given was very weird that she was wearing a Hijab.

Earlier over telephonic interview she had cleared the initial selection process, she was told that she would have to remove her Hijab, the headscarf that is wore to cover head, or else she would not get the job.

Ghazala had who is an aspiring news anchor applied for the position in a Hindi News Portal(name withheld) a few days ago. On August 30, she received a phone call from a representative of newsportal congratulating her for selection. Shortly after she was cleared and other formalities such as the salary and the starting date were being discussed, she asked the interviewer that she wore a hijab and inquired if that would be a problem.

“It was a complete silence for couple of minutes”, she said, “I kept asking if someone was still there or not. After about three minutes, he said aap samajh nahin rahin hain. Badhe badhe channels nahin rakhte. Hamara to chhota sa portal hai [You’re not understanding. Even big media channels do not hire (hijabis). We are only a small portal)] .”

Ghazala informed the recruiter that she had worked in the media industry for a while now, having experience of interning with the New Indian Express, NDTV and Twocircle.net. She even had told them that her religious covering would have no bearing on her journalistic integrity or productivity, however, all of her concerns were dismissed by the interviewer.

“He told me that this is India and no broadcaster has ever hast a Hijab-wearing person. He told me to understand his situation because if he recruits anyone with a Hijab, his channel would be shut down. He asked me to try writing for a paper instead,” she said.

Its pertinent to mention that mainstream media has endorsing religious hate against particular community from a long time now. Even PM of country once said” Yeh aag lagane waale kon hai unke kapdo se hi pata lagta hai”

Ghazal said she is crestfallen that her worth as a journalist is reduced to a piece of cloth, as well as the fact that she is not being allowed to assert her religious identity, Either she has to lose her religious identity or Job.

“As a journalist, I believe in the ethics of respect and inclusivity,” says Ahmad. “However, Islamophobia and sexism are so rampant that even in this profession, women and Muslims have so many barriers to climb. Even the constitution allows us to practice and propagate our religion and bars any discrimination at any workspace. However, gender and religion have always been parameters for restrictions in the media. I am just having the opportunity to raise my concerns.”

She Says, “Rejection hurts, but I will continue towards being a journalist”.