QATAR: Five female anchors resign from Al Jazeera over handling of alleged harassment case
Five female anchors from the popular satellite news channel Al Jazeera have resigned, claiming the network mishandled complaints against a superior who allegedly harassed them because their clothing and makeup were not modest enough.
An internal inquiry was launched several months ago after eight female journalists signed an official complaint against Ayman Jaballah, a deputy editor known for his conservative views and his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Lebanese daily As-Safir reported.
The results of that inquiry, released last Tuesday, concluded that the network was within its legal rights to dictate the appearance of its on-air presenters, leading five of the petitioners to quit in protest, although the network is reportedly seeking a compromise solution.
Joumana Nammour, Lina Zahradine, Julnar Moussa, Lona Shibel and Nawfar Afli handed in their resignations on May 25, while Iman Bannoura, Leila Sheikhly and Khadija Bin Qana were reportedly among those who signed the original complaint.
The story was broken by Hasan Al Mustafa, a Saudi freelance journalist based in Lebanon, and quickly picked up by other outlets including the pan-Arab paper Al Hayat and the Lebanese dailies As-Safir and Al Akhbar. Al Jazeera has yet to comment on the reports.
Lina Zahradine, who is among those who quit, told As-Safir's Faten Qubeissy that the dispute was not just about wardrobe, citing years of "unprofessional" treatment at the hands of management.
"There is something wrong professionally within the newsroom that needs to be fixed, and I don't mean the editorial policy," Zahradine said. "There is a history among people in the administration--and I don't say the administrative board as a whole--of behavior that is unacceptable for a superior towards a subordinate."
Nawfar Afli agreed, calling the latest incident "the straw that broke the camel's back." She said she would announce her real reasons for quitting after she leaves the station.
-- Meris Lutz in Beirut
Photo: Al Jazeera presenter Lina Zahradine is one of five women who quit over the alleged mishandling of a harassment complaint. Credit: Dar al-Iraqiya