London: Maria TV, a new satellite news channel that only features women wearing the full Islamic veil, has been launched in Egypt. Men are banned from the show, a media report said Saturday.
Stationed in a small apartment in the working class district of Abassiya in the capital city of Cairo, Maria TV will be broadcast for six hours a day on the al-Ummah channel, a religious station run by orthodox Salafi Islamists.
Wearing veils and dressed in black from head to toe, only women are employees of Maria TV.
Men are banned from the show, even on phone-ins. All women staff, including those behind the camera, wear veils.
Female preacher El-Sheikha Safaa Refai, who heads Maria TV, said the channel’s existence showed how far the country had come since the uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
On the subject of wearing a veil to read the news, she said: “I was told that it won’t work because of the body language. Well, the tone of my voice can convey my emotions and reactions.”
She said she hoped that by appearing on TV in full Islamic dress, she could show people “that there are successful women wearing niqab”.
The Daily Mail said the channel is is named after a Coptic Christian woman from Egypt who was married to Prophet Mohammad.
Abeer Shahin said she graduated from the prestigious American University in Cairo but struggled to find a job because of employers’ aversion to her full Islamic veil.
But now she has found a job she hopes will change how Egyptian society views niqab wearers. She is going to work as a TV anchor.
“It’s unfair to deal with veiled women as a standard religious housewife. No, she can be a doctor, a professor and an engineer,” said Shahin, wearing a loose black robe and a black head scarf that revealed only her eyes.