America’s First Reporter in a Hijab: Noor Tagouri

Noor Tagouri is known as the “first hijabi news anchor” in America. She has also become a well-known public speaker for sharing her personal experiences as a Muslim-American. As Islamophobia runs rampant in the U.S. and much of the West, Tagouri’s activism and visibility in her field is extremely necessary.

Noor’s career kicked off when she created a viral hashtag campaign, called #LetNoorShine. Noor means “light” in Arabic and Tagouri wanted to use her inner light to inspire others, so they too would share their passions and celebrate their differences.

She is often seen as “different” to some Americans, due to the fact she wears a hijab, which means “cover” in Arabic. A hijab is a headscarf, which comes in many colors, and it is worn by some Muslim women and sometimes even non-Muslim women. The hijab is generally worn with other clothes deemed “modest”, such as loose fitting long-sleeve tops and long skirts or pants.

Whenever Noor Tagouri leaves her home, or when she is going to be around men she is not related to, she always covers her hair with a hijab. Women wearing the beautiful and delicate square piece of cloth, which generally signifies “I am Muslim”, have received a lot of unwanted and sometimes violent attention from non-Muslims in America.

A majority of women in the field of journalism are often scrutinized for the clothes they choose or the makeup they wear. On top of those demeaning struggles, Noor must skillfully and graciously navigate the image-centric field in which she works, while wearing an obvious marker of her faith.

Regardless of the backlash she has received from Muslims who focus on the modesty of the clothes she is wearing, or non-Muslims who are opposed to her religion, Noor Tagouri is determined to spread her message to promote tolerance and women’s empowerment.

Read our short interview with Noor below to learn more about her thoughts on Islamophobia in America and empowering women through her professional endeavors.

In recent months there’s been numerous cases of Islamophobia and misconceptions regarding Islam in America. What do you think are some of the steps that Non-Muslims can take in order to further embrace Muslim communities in the U.S.?

Be vocal about not accepting the way mainstream media portrays Muslims or the Islamophobia that goes on. Don’t just remain silent.

Speak up. To your families, your Facebook friends, everywhere.

And don’t be afraid to ask REAL LIFE MUSLIMS questions you have about Islam. We need you to come to us, not Google.

What advice would you give to young Muslim-American women who dream of pursuing careers where they’ll be working in the public eye?

My advice would be to not let anything stop you from pursuing that dream. Sometimes it will be tougher to get the job but make sure you are the best at every skill you need for the job so there is no reason to fire you.

Become that leader, a pioneer. And know that you are constantly breaking stereotypes and barriers for Muslim women simply by being you, one woman on a wide spectrum.

What is the toughest lesson you have learned in your career and what achievements are you the most proud of?

The toughest lesson so far has probably been that you can’t take on everything and do great at it. You really have to reflect and renew your intentions for what you believe your purpose, message, and legacy are. Then– make sure you are only doing things that align with that.

It’s ok to say no so that you can just do great on the particular things you want to take on at the moment. Don’t spread yourself thin.

Every time a girl reaches out to me and says that I’ve inspired her to love herself more, pursue her true passion, or just feel less alone…those are the moments I’m most proud of.

Get to know Noor Tagouri:

Author’s note: This short interview was originally featured on Middle East Collective.

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