Hoda Katebi, an Iranian-American fashion blogger, held her composure during an awkward TV interview.
An Iranian-American Muslim fashion blogger appeared on TV to discuss one thing: her new book, Tehran Streetstyle.
But instead of doing so, the interview, which aired on Chicago’s WGN News morning show, went from briefly discussing Hoda Katebi’s upbringing in Oklahoma and her experiences of wearing the hijab to… her thoughts on nuclear weapons in Iran.
“Let’s talk about nuclear weapons. Some of our viewers may say we cannot trust Iran. What are your thoughts?,” asked host Larry Potash.
It’s fair to say that Katebi, who blogs at JooJoo Azad and studied international relations and Middle Eastern politics at the University of Chicago, handled the out-of-the-blue question like a pro.
“I don’t think we can trust this country [the US]. When we see the legacy of this country and the violence that it has not only created but also created the capacity for, a lot of these weapons in the Middle East are completely brought in by the Unites States,” Katebi explained.
To which host Robin Baumgarten then told Katebi: “A lot of Americans might take offence to that. You’re an American, you don’t sound like an American when you say [this] … you know what I mean.”
“That’s because I’ve read,” Katebi responded, adding that it was important people “look beyond these simple narratives that we’re told, whether it’s about Muslim women or the legacy of the country knowing that this country was literally built on the backs of black slaves and after the genocide of indigenous people.”
Under the terms of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with the world’s major powers, Iran does not have nuclear weapons.
After the interview ended abruptly, Katebi took to social media to share her thoughts on it. Katebi said being told she “didn’t sound American” was a “loaded statement to say to a visibly Muslim woman on live TV”.
“I was born in this country yet they demand I am suspicious of my Iranian-ness but unquestionably patriotic of America. The double standards are wild,” Katebi further explained.
“The title they gave me on the show was ‘fashion blogger’, yet here I am being asked about nuclear weapons. Would they ever bring on a white chef to their show and then ask him about Brexit or his thoughts on the rise of white supremacy?”
The news outlet has since responded to the controversy surrounding the interview.
“WGN-TV anchor Robin Baumgarten spoke with Hoda Katebi this morning. Robin apologised to Hoda and they had a constructive dialogue about micro-aggressions. WGN, Robin and Hoda will be working together to use this as a teachable moment to encourage education and a deeper understanding of race, religion and identity struggles,” a WGN spokesperson told the Guardian.
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