Television journalist Tahera Rahman is breaking barriers for Muslim women in America. The reporter has worked behind the scenes as a producer for years. However, earlier this month, Rahman transitioned to on-camera talent for Quad Cities’ WHBF-TV in Iowa. She is the first full-time hijab-wearing reporter in the United States.
Growing up, Rahman always knew she wanted to be a journalist. She realized that achieving her goal was going to be difficult, especially because no one on TV news looked like her. But that didn’t stop her from chasing her dream, the Des Moines Register reports.
“I live in America, and I was born and raised with the values of equality and democracy and hard work getting you to your dream, to the American dream,” she said.
Journalism is an extremely competitive field, and throughout her career, Rahman said she felt the pressure to remove her headscarf in order to fit in in the industry.
“A small part of me feels like I am giving into the haters if I take it off,” she said. “Because that’s the first thing people say is, ‘Take that rag off your head and go back to where you came from.’
“I was born and raised here and I wear it, so I am where I belong,” Rahman said. “And you have to deal with it because this is my America, too.”
It was the 27-year-old’s hard work and exceptional journalism skills that got her in front of the camera. After being a producer for the local station for two years, she had to apply for the multimedia journalist opening, like everyone else who wanted the job.
Mike Mickle, the station’s news director, hired Rahman, but it was not because of her hijab. “I don’t care if Tahera is the first or the 30th or the 3,000th [hijabi reporter], she’s been hired because she deserved the job,” he said.
Although Rahman is making history and paving the way for other American women who wear hijabs to become television news reporters, she hopes the focus will eventually shift from her hijab to the stories she shares as a journalist.
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