All eyes on Noor: Local woman wants to be first hijabi anchor on American TV

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Indeed, it was my dream some 8 years ago, to place Hijabi woman on at least ten city council across the US. Every day, I want to say America is God’s own country, and that all men are created equal and all humans have an equal opportunity. This is an Islamic value practiced here in America more than any Muslim nation. 

Every one can aspire and work hard to achieve his or her dream.

When will Muslim Nations will give such opportunities to their minorities?

God bless America

Mike Ghouse
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All eyes on Noor: Local woman wants to be first hijabi anchor on American TV
Courtesy – Washington Post 


Noor Tagouri films a piece for 72 HRS, a Canadian travel guide.  (Bekka Gunther/Courtesy of Noor Tagouri)

Noor Tagouri’s thick black curls spiral several inches past her shoulders. It’s easy to imagine a news director telling the reporter to cut her hair into a more broadcast-friendly bob. But Tagouri doesn’t have to worry about such a conversation. Her enviable tresses will always be covered.

That’s because Tagouri is hijabi. As in, she artfully drapes a scarf over her head when she’s going to be around men she’s not related to. So, essentially, whenever she leaves the house.
A hijab, which means “cover” in Arabic, is a headscarf worn by some Muslim women (as well as some men and non-Muslims). Most often covering the hair and neck, it’s usually paired with an overall fashion style geared toward modesty — loose-fitting clothing, long sleeves, no shorts.

“It empowers me,” Tagouri says. “It helps me do what I want to do.”
What she wants to do is to be the first hijabi anchor on U.S. commercial television. And she’s in a hurry to get there. After graduating early from high school, she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland. At 21, she now works part-time for CBS Radio and Prince George’s Community Television.

She’s also a smartphone celebrity. In December 2012, she joined the ranks of social media stars after posting a photo of herself sitting at the anchor desk at ABC 7 news in Washington, labeling it “my dream.” The post went viral, and Tagouri quickly amassed thousands of followers. Now she boasts more than 96,000 likes on Facebook, nearly 62,000 followers on Instagram and 17,000 on Twitter.

Unlike her television role models, who include the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Lisa Ling, Tagouri has to navigate the image-centric media landscape wearing an immediate marker of her faith – a square of cloth that signifies “I am Muslim.”

That can be a high hurdle to face in a country where a lot of misunderstanding still surrounds Islam.

Consider the case of Samantha Elauf, who didn’t get hired by Abercrombie & Fitch after she wore a headscarf to a job interview in 2008. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that the retailer had violated anti-discrimination laws when it rejected Elauf because her hijab conflicted with its dress code. “I was pleasantly surprised,” Tagouri says of the ruling.

She sees the decision as a victory not just for Elauf or other Muslims but for all women. “It was a huge step forward” in establishing a societal rule that people shouldn’t be penalized for dressing differently, she says. “I think people are starting to get past that. We’re tired of being carbon-copy cookie cutters of what society expects us to be.”

What really matters is not what you wear but whether you can do the job well, says Abed Ayoub, legal and policy director at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. It’s insulting, he says, “to think that an individual who wears a hijab or turban isn’t capable of being unbiased” or fair in a media job or any other job. “They are more than capable of taking up any occupation.”

Despite other hijabi women warning her that “it’ll always be the scarf or the job,” Tagouri is confident that she won’t have to hide her beliefs to find employment. Besides, she says, “My identity is way more important to me than a job.”

She definitely doesn’t lack self-confidence. Perched on a wicker chair, one leg tucked beneath her, in the sunroom of her Libyan American family’s palatial home in Bowie, Md., Tagouri says she has no interest in being anyone other than herself. She still lives at home with her father, a pathologist at St. Mary’s Hospital in southern Maryland, her mother and four younger siblings and likes to hang out with her 10-year-old sister, Lina. She has no interest in drinking but she’s always up for a show by Florence + the Machine, one of her favorite bands.

Like many a millennial, she talks in excited bursts, sprinkling her speech with “likes” and getting sidetracked on giggle-filled tangents about the various people she’s met on the extensive trips spawned by her Internet celebrity. On camera, she says, she ditches the “reporter voice” and speaks as if she’s having a conversation with the viewers. “I’m like, ‘This is what’s going on, here’s what’s happening,’” she explains of her style.

She’s not concerned about her “otherness” in an industry long known for its focus on standardized perfection — impeccable blowout, straight teeth, no accent. Millennials are hungry for new faces that they can see themselves in, she says, noting that so often, all you see are success stories from people who are 20 years into their careers. “It’s a totally different perspective that I’m able to bring when I’m still on the journey,” she says. “These are my struggles, this is what I’m going through, this is what worked for me, this is what hasn’t worked for me.”

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