Tahera Rehman: America’s first TV reporter to wear a hijab on air

0
203

A Muslim American woman made history as she became the first full-time TV reporter in the United States to wear a hijab on air.

A journalist from Iowa, Tahera Rahman had worked for WHBF, a television station in Illinois and Iowa for two years as a producer before applying to be on-air, reported Today.

“I love the way that you can craft a story with TV news,” she said. Rahman always dreamed of being in front of the camera, “You get to do it in the words of the people themselves.”

However, people including mentors and even some producers told her that America was not ready for a hijab-wearing news anchor just yet.

The motivated 27-year-old nonetheless applied to an on-air reporting job which ultimately led her to the WHBF-TV newsroom.

“It seemed normal to me because I was just following in the footsteps of my mom,” she said.

“I always knew that I had never seen anyone who looks like me on camera before… at least on American television,” she says. “I have a lot of family members who do not wear a headscarf, but my mom wears one and a couple of my aunts also do. We are taught that in Islam, it is a choice.”

Becoming a role model

Rahman first wore the hijab when she was 12-years-old. Calling it a ‘choice,’ she admits it has been difficult, “I think I’ve made more of a conscious effort as I’ve grown older to connect more to my heritage.”

“I think when you are younger it’s all about fitting in. And when you are in elementary, middle school and especially high school in America, you just want to be like everyone else.”

Rahman’s parents are immigrants from Pakistan and India though she was born outside of Chicago. However, her career is not about heritage or faith, it’s about hard work.

“I grew up with the same morals as everyone else; hard work and determination will get you to your American dream. As long as I put in the work, my craft will speak for itself and outweigh anything else,” she said on an interviewed with Megyn Kelly.

“Tahera deserves this” Mike Mickle, WHBF news director stated. He never considered asking Rahman to remove her hijab.

“We realise that she is the first. But if she had been the 30th, the 300th or the 3000th, it wouldn’t have made a difference. We did it because she’s Tahera and she earned this opportunity,” Mickle said.

After her first broadcast, Muslims and non-Muslims from across the world sent messages of support to Rahman, calling her a role model for women and girls.

“It’s been so incredible,” Rahman added. “People from Mexico, Sweden, Eastern Europe telling me that they all stand behind me and are cheering me on … And then people from all over Iowa who have invited me to have dinner with their families and speak with their daughters. Simply incredible. I feel so grateful for all of it.”

Unfortunately, Rahman also received some hateful messages along with threats. But she is not letting that get in her way as she hopes people will change their views.