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New Egyptian TV channel to only feature fully face-veiled women
The first niqabi-only TV channel will be launched on the first day of Ramadan; eyebrows raised in media circles
Ahram Online, Thursday 5 Jul 2012
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Niqab

The first Egyptian satellite channel completely operated by women wearing the full face veil (niqab) is set to be launched 20 July, which will coincide with the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

The channel will be named "Mariya" after one of Prophet Mohamed's wives, who was a Coptic Egyptian freed slave.  A full niqabi film crew will manage and operate the channel, including TV presenters, producers, directors and correspondents.

The channel will air its programmes through the ultra-conservative Islamic Umma Channel for six hours every day. The majority of the programming will focus on the niqab and married life.

The channel will be exclusively managed by women. Men will be prohibited from working in or appearing on Mariya, and even participating in phone-ins during live programmes.

El-Sheikha Safaa Refai, a preacher who will head the channel, said that Mariya programmes aim to educate Muslim women about their religion.

"Our message will be directed at Muslim women, to teach them the Sunna (practices) of the Prophet Mohamed," Refai told Al-Ahram Arabic news portal Thursday.

Refai pointed out that this is not the first time niqabi women work in the media, adding that they have already been working as presenters in several religious channels over the past few years.

She insisted that the niqab is the proper Muslim attire as stipulated by Islamic Sharia law.

Refai went on to label any woman who does not wear the full face veil as "uncovered," stressing that the niqab is a "red line" that cannot be crossed.

She indicated that Mariya plans to feature only niqabi pundits. However, if the channel airs a programme about an issue and cannot find a niqabi expert, they will host a non-niqabi and give them two options: either to wear the niqab temporarily during the programme, or have their faces blurred out while the programme is being broadcast.

However, Refai added that this does not mean that they will be "excluding anyone" explaining that Mariya aims to bring back the dignity of niqabi women who were oppressed and fired from their jobs over the past few decades.

Among the programmes that will be featured on Mariya is "Memoires of a woman," which will discuss marital infidelity, with the focus on women cheating on their husbands.

The channel currently has 30 niqabi TV presenters. They also have a temporary male director, Mohamed Dunia, who will be replaced with a niqabi woman soon, according to Refai. Similarly, the "uncovered" camerawomen Mariya has hired for the timebeing will also soon be replaced.

The head cover (hijab), the more common Islamic attire in Egypt, was banned on Egyptian TV channels during the Mubarak era. It was, however, common in a variety of religious satellite channels.

News about Mariya caused shockwaves across the Egyptian media sector.

Al-Jazeera TV anchor Mona Salman, who is also Egyptian, says that facial expressions are an important tool used by TV presenters when programmes are being aired.

"They are vital tools in connecting with your audience, including eye contact," Salman said.

She added that Mariya's concept seems more appropriate for radio.

"There are certain types of programmes in which the TV presenter does not appear. These include documentaries or other programmes where the presenter is not on camera." Salman explains. "However, once the presenter is in front of the camera, then yes, facial expressions become very important."

According to Refai, the idea of the channel was presented in 2005 by El-Sheikh Abu Islam Ahmed Abdallah, the owner of the Umma Channel. Abdallah began by producing several niqabi only programmes on his channel, before coming up with the idea of creating a channel exclusively for niqabi women.

Refai refused to reveal who is funding the channel.

Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, Egypt has witnessed an ongoing Islamist ascendency. During the Mubarak regime there were heavy crackdowns on Islamists, with the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group, officially banned, though tolerated.

Members of the Brotherhood were routinely detained, their properties regularly confiscated, and they were often banned from running for political office. This situation changed after the 25 January 2011 uprising, with the Brotherhood launching the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

Islamists have since enjoyed a predominent presence in the political sphere, with the Brotherhood and the Safafist El-Nour Party winning 47 and 23 per cent of parliament seats respectively.

The presidential race also saw several Islamist candidates vying for the top post, including Salafist Hazem Abu Ismail, Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh and the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, who went on to win the elections and become Egypt's first Islamist president.

 





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34



D. Wood
13-06-2013 10:56pm
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Stylists
Who will do their hair and makeup?
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33



Fatima
21-01-2013 02:29pm
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Why can't they do as they choose?
Why are all the people here insulting the sisters? It's lots of niqabis, and we want to be represented like others. Calling others "stupid, inhumane, un-Islamic" shows you want freedom, but not for others. Aisha(RA) covered her face when men were around, and she taught the Muslims. What facial expression are we talking about here. One just has to convey the truth. Muslims commenting on here should really be a shame of themselves. Read how Aisha covered herself. Would you call her the names you are calling the sisters here? Please, beg Allah's forgiveness. How can you talk about freedom and want to restrict it for others? If you don't like the channel, don't turn to it. Calling others outside of their name is bad manners. They aren't forcing anyone to look at the channel or their programmes. No woman today can tough Aisha(RA) in knowledge and it's a fact, she wore niqab.
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32



maia
12-07-2012 12:06am
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maia
would be entirely cool if 1) not a man's idea 2) stupid - so obviously not addressed at women's needs. I mean, controlling your sexual urges to fuck all passing blokes is egyptian women's pressing problem, whereas unfaithful husbands and street sexual assault aren't. And cheating on your husband is hardly a problem - it may be immoral, but it isn't 'aimed at women' it's 'aimed at telling women what to do' by someone who thinks they're sexually incontinent. 3)context - eg in UK, who cares? But in Egypt you're reinforcing overwhelming oppression
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31



Karim
11-07-2012 09:39am
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The nightmare of Great Egypt.
The nightmare of Great Egypt.
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30



NEON
09-07-2012 11:01am
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OK
Une excellente nouvelle - la seule chaine à laquelle Moubarak devrait encore avoir accès
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29



BE
09-07-2012 10:17am
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marital infidelity
"Among the programmes that will be featured on Mariya is "Memoires of a woman," which will discuss marital infidelity, with the focus on women cheating on their husbands." I guess marital infidelity is a big problem in Egypt? Who are the women "making infidelities" with?
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Vicky
09-07-2012 09:31am
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God forbid that we come to see more degradation on Egyptian TV
No Egyptian well educated woman will accept this arbitrary and inhuman niqab , let them tell us in which page of the Coran its says go cover yourself up, are we women animals to cover up as if we are ashamed of our feminity, it has to do with the actual fanatism prevailing in our more than modern used to be EGYPT... Hopefully we Egyptian women will not accept this . Please unite as this revolution will take Egypt back 100 years. we who are so proud of our Pharaonic civilization and heritage. Lets pray the brotherhood will not attack the tourists sites and bring Egypt to its knees . God help and protect all Egyptian women. Since when women talk about the Coran and on TV . ????? How do we know that the person behind the niqab is not a man disguised and giving bad advise to women about family life ??? how the hell does he know anything about family life, when all they think bout is what they have under the belt. God help and keep Egypt safe from such a fate.
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27



ingy sammamkia
09-07-2012 04:53am
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Disgusting
These women demean all women in Egypt, they belong to the dark ages only.
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26



expat
08-07-2012 06:06pm
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welcome to the new taliban order
well,well,well,what a surprise always the loudest,fundamentialists become the winners in any revolution here you go,give it 5 years and all ladies go like this,if they like it or not best regards expat
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25



A woman and proud
08-07-2012 04:20am
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Women are humans !!
I am Egyptian Muslim woman and find this show to be demeaning to women. Who are they to tell us more educated women what not to wear and what to wear. I am woman and proud. This shows intention is to brainwash the masses with their backward retarded way of thinking. God gave me a face to show the world who I am. The niqub should be banned since it is against Islam, it is against humanity and also it robs normal women who don't wear the face cover the freedom.
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MS
08-07-2012 01:22pm
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Women are humans !!
God bless you and every Egyptian woman that follow your thinking. This is exactly what Egypt needs strong liberal educated women to counteract this under Islamic flag hidden brainwash. God bless you again and keep opposing this backwards movement.

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