The first veiled anchor for a news channel in Connecticut, USA: My colleague described me as a terrorist and I had to take off my hijab when I was young

Aya Jalal: I hope to show the younger generations that it’s okay to be different, and if there’s no way for you, pave your own.

Despite the difficulties that Muslim and Arab girls face in Western societies, there are those who have not been prevented by these obstacles from becoming a source of truth and a platform for dealing with issues that preoccupy members of those societies.

Among them is Aya Galal, an American of Egyptian descent, who became the first Muslim anchor to appear in the hijab in Connecticut on CBS’ WFSB-TV. ) famous.

Sanad agency for monitoring and verification of news on Al-Jazeera network conducted a lengthy interview with Aya, during which she talked about her journey with the media, the obstacles she faced as a veiled Muslim, as well as her big dream for the future, and her message to Muslim girls, stressing her hope that she would become a source of inspiration for them to stay in the provinces. On their own to do what they love.

  • Who is Aya Jalal?

I was born and raised in Connecticut, USA, and my family traces back to Egypt. I’m a reporter for WFSB-TV of CBS in Connecticut.

  • How did you start your career in the media field?

I have always had a passion for reading, writing and public speaking. She studied journalism and political science at Quinnipiac University. She was hired as a news producer at the station where she trained. As much as I enjoyed working behind the scenes, I wanted more field experience and on-air reporting. Recently, I was selected to present and produce news reports on WFSB-TV. I am currently working as a full-time broadcaster, and the 25th of this month saw my first appearance.

  • Being the first Muslim anchor on WFSB-TV did you face any obstacles?

At first, I worked behind the scenes as a news producer because I was afraid that no station would want to hire a female anchor who wore a hijab, but luckily I was wrong. While I have received some racist and anti-Islam messages, I am happy to say that I have more positive and supportive messages than hateful ones.

  • How did your Islamic upbringing affect what you have achieved?

I know the challenges that come with being a Muslim in America. When I was a young student, I had to take off my hijab at school and I remember my classmate calling me a terrorist.

And wearing a headscarf doesn’t make me any less able to be a good journalist, I can wear a headscarf and keep telling stories with fairness. Diversity in the media is very important.

  • What is the size of your responsibility after your first appearance on the screen?

I’ve been reporting for TV for nearly 3 years now, and with each story I feel a responsibility to tell it as accurately and fairly as possible. My job is to seek and report the truth, and in addition, I feel a responsibility to represent Islam in a positive way, as opposed to stereotypes that offend my religion.

  • How do you deal with issues of Islamophobia?

As a news reporter from Connecticut, I mainly cover issues within the state. As with all stories, I will do my best to cover Islamophobia stories in a professional, accurate and fair manner.

  • How do you serve the Muslim community in America?

I hope I can help share the stories of communities that are often underreported or wrongly highlighted in the media. I also hope to support the girls by helping them realize that their Islam will not prevent them from pursuing any profession. I have already received many kind messages from Muslim families saying that I am an inspiration to their children.

  • Who is your idol?

My fellow journalists, Tahira Rahman, Genelia Massa, and Oba Ali, inspired me because they are Muslim women who wear the hijab while working as reporters and broadcasters in North America. And their work has inspired me, helping to have a group of women who understand the unique challenges we face as Muslims in American media.

  • What is your big dream for the future?

I enjoy reporting in my home state of Connecticut, but hopefully eventually will be able to work for a major news network in the United States.

  • What is your message to Muslim girls in America and the world?

I hope I can inspire others to stay true to who they are while doing what they love. I especially hope to show the younger generations that it’s okay to be different and embrace what makes you special. Although we have come a long way, I believe there is still more work to be done, so if there is no way for you, pave your own way.

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