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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003, 18:42 GMT
Star journalist embraces the hijab
An anchorwoman who appeared on an Arab satellite channel in a salmon-coloured Islamic veil has prompted a flood of calls to the station's switchboard.

Now and then: Ben Ganna's switch prompted a flood of calls
Star Algerian journalist Khadija Ben Ganna - of al-Jazeera television - decided to put on the hijab one day before the Eid al-Fitr holiday that began on Tuesday in most Muslim countries.

Ben Ganna said she managed to "defeat the devil" after three years of mulling over the idea of wearing the veil, adding that she came under no pressure from the channel's management.

"The board of directors' view was that it was a personal matter that would only be evaluated on a professional basis," she said.

Screen tests were conducted two years ago with the journalist wearing the hijab, but she hesitated over adopting it on screen.

Ben Ganna said the decisive moment for her came after a one-on-one with Egyptian Islamic preacher Omar Abdul Kafi, who appeared on an al-Jazeera programme called Sharia (Islamic law) and Life.

Al-Jazeera is majority-owned by the Qatari government and beamed via satellite to millions of viewers around the world.

One of al-Jazeera's other star reporters, Taysir Allouni, was arrested in September in Spain on charges of allegedly being "a member of a terrorist group" and using trips to Kabul to forge links with al-Qaeda.

He was later released on bail.

In mid-November al-Jazeera appointed a new board of directors and a new manager in a reshuffle to "enhance the station's capabilities and ensure the standards of professionalism".

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