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A Chat with the Sun”s Anila Baig | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Chat with the Sun”s Anila Baig

A Chat with the Sun''s Anila Baig

A Chat with the Sun”s Anila Baig

London-The first thing most people might do when they pick up ‘The Sun’, UK”s biggest selling newspaper, is directly turn to page three to check out the ”The Sun”s” pioneering feature of the ‘page 3 girl’, in which a different model will pose everyday semi-naked for the pleasure of its readers.

Perhaps the last thing one would expect to encounter is to find a column written by a veiled woman, especially considering that many describe the ”The Sun” as having an &#34anti-Islamic&#34 approach as well as its obsession with semi-naked women and other explicit topics. However, a new reality seems to be unveiling itself in the hands of the British readers and this reality goes by the name of Anila Baig, the newest columnist to the tabloid. What is so striking about Baig is that she is the first veiled columnist of British mainstream newspapers.

Anila, who is originally Pakistani, is a British Muslim journalist. She is also a 34-year-old single mother. With such a profile, she is more likely of being sacked, rather than supported by ‘The Sun’. Yet, this is exactly what happened a few months back as the editors of the tabloid, which sells on average 4 million copies a day, employed her directly after she won the award for ”Best Columnist” at the Regional Press Awards, 2004 when she was still writing for the ”Yorkshire Post”.

Baig explains that she was shocked at first considering the challenge involved of joining such a successful publication and the responsibilities that come along with that alone. The writer also told ”Asharq Al Awsat” that &#34there is too much misinterpretation of Muslims and Islam in British society so if I am able to change the opinion of one person, then I would be more than happy.&#34

But is joining a publication such as ”The Sun” the best way to achieve such a goal? Baig argues that the paper &#34had a certain outlook in the past but that is over now.&#34 She elaborates further saying, &#34the editors told me that they are against all forms of extremism and that the paper is known for its position against violence and pro-children”s rights. After knowing this, I had no problem joining them because as a Muslim, I am also against all forms of extremism.&#34 She emphasizes the point that her articles are not confined to any kind of censorship.

Anila blames fundamentalists for tarnishing the image of Islam in British society. She says that ”Abu Hamza and all the scenes of murder have not left a good impression of Muslims in general.”

As for her choice of topic for her articles, she says she prefers to write about her own personal experiences and feelings as a Muslim woman in British society, of which many people cannot understand. &#34Please don”t be turned off by my picture,&#34 she writes at the beginning of one of her articles, &#34I am just a girl who chooses to hide her highlights under a scarf.&#34 She explains, &#34Many people just do not realize that Muslims are human as well! We like to have fun too!&#34 In another article, she condemns the killing of Margaret Hassan saying, &#34Our religion reveres mothers, in particular, it says that heaven lies under their feet. The killers of this great woman are not even worthy of cleaning her shoes. For the countless number of Iraqi children that she has helped, the only solace is knowing that she will be in heaven. The same cannot be said for the scum who took her life.&#34

Anila does not have an issue with writing for the same newspaper that is so popular for its features of semi-naked models as it causes her no problems. &#34I am ok with it, my parents are ok with it, and that is the most important thing&#34, says Baig. The writer believes that newspapers should be a realistic reflection of the society that it represents, she explains, &#34In our streets you would find both kinds of women, those who cover and those who do not. Both accept each other so why can”t we expect that in our newspapers?&#34

In her articles, Baig strongly depends on her sense of humor as she says &#34you will be surprised how much easier it is to get your point across with a little bit of humor,&#34 as is evident in her first article which was entitled, ”Let me go out mum, I am 34 years old!&#34