SHAFAQNA-Hawzah News Agency: Tasnim Nazeer, 34, made history following her appearance on STV news reporting on the lack of support for bereaved families in Scotland.
A Muslim woman has become the first Hijab-wearing journalist to anchor a report on Scottish TV news, after a ten-year career in journalism. Tasnim Nazeer, 34, made history following her appearance on STV news reporting on the lack of support for bereaved families in Scotland. She explained how her attempts at networking to gain work experience or opportunities at shadowing were always dismissed because she would not compromise her Hijab.
“I’ve met certain individuals who made it very clear to me that broadcasting is not a space for visibly Muslim women. It is a space that is mainly for white privileged broadcasters and you see this every day on screen,” she said. Speaking to MEMO, she highlighted prejudice in the profession despite her rich career in journalism focusing on the Middle East and issues such as injustice, corruption and crime affecting underrepresented communities.
Her first article was published in an international Sri Lankan newspaper after the 2004 tsunami when she drew attention to the victims of the disaster who had still not received government aid. “The discrimination became more apparent when I was freelancing within certain organisations where not a single black or Asian news journalist can be found – not in the newsroom.”
Tasnim, whose parents are Sri Lankan and who has a Master’s degree in international journalism, has reported for numerous top media agencies including the Guardian and Al Jazeera, the Independent, CNN among others. She explained the discrimination she faced. She was shocked but stood firm in her identity.
She said: “For somebody to say that to your face not knowing this is not something that I could just take on and off, it means so much more to me. I didn’t know what to do or say but I knew this is obviously not the right place for me if they’re gonna have ideologies like that.” The mother of five emphasised that the media has a problem with representation and points out that the lack of diversity within media broadcasts is not a new issue by any means.
It’s a challenge she has seen replicated across other industries in different ways and which is now emerging as a central theme in all fields due to the Black Lives Matter movement the following killing of George Floyd. Having a Hijabi Muslim woman feature in mainstream media should not be shocking. After all, Muslims in the UK make up nearly six per cent of the population, and an even greater proportion if we look at only younger demographics.
“I want to achieve my positions retaining my Muslim identity, however, many people feel under pressure for various reasons in the media industry because they may face hidden discrimination like this where they’re being told to compromise their identity, this could be wearing a Hijab or wearing a turban. I’ve come across other people in the industry who told me about their challenges as well,” said Tasnim.