Reporters Without Borders is disturbed to learn that five women journalists have resigned as presenters from the Qatar-based satellite TV station Al Jazeera as a result of a dispute with the management over various issues including their attire.
“The dispute is a deep-seated one,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The religious dimension that has taken hold at Al Jazeera is the main reason for the decision by the five presenters to resign en masse.”
Three of the departing presenters (Jumana Nammour, Lina Zahr Al-Deen and Jullinar Mousa) are Lebanese. One is Syrian (Luna Al-Shibil) and one is Tunisian (Nawfar Afli).
According to the daily Al-Hayat, they resigned last week after complaining of repeated comments and criticism by a member of the management about their attire, which was considered insufficiently conservative.
Al Jazeera’s management has refused to comment on the resignations but it insists that the station is not pro-Islamist and that it “covers the news in a balanced manner.”
The station’s outspoken style of coverage has revolutionised the Arab world’s media since its launch in 1996. But it has been fiercely criticised in Washington, where it is accused of acting as the mouthpiece of extremist groups, and it has been banned in Iraq since 2004.