Moroccos only female minister says wearing hijab made her a media target

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Morocco’s only female minister claimed that the media has targeted her because she dons the Islamic headscarf, commonly known as the hijab.

Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, Bassima Hakkaoui, said since taking office in January 3, 2012, the media attempted to mar her credibility by reporting false news and information about her.

Hakkaoui’s husband having a second wife is among the erroneous information she rebuffed.

“The media has attacked me ever since my appointment [as minister] by reporting statements I did not say,” she told the French-language Moroccan weekly magazine, Tel Quel, in an interview.

“This is because I am a hijab-wearing woman in parliament…I think this has agitated some people who tried to tar my credibility.”

The 52-year-old minister said she respects journalists despite some who do not verify their reports before publishing.

“I find myself to bring more attention more than other ministers as I am the only woman minister.”

The only-female minister urged for changes to safeguard women rights in Morocco. She vowed that there will be changes to article 475 in the country’s penal code that allows a rapist to marry his victim to escape prosecution.

Last year, a Moroccan court allowed a rapist to marry his 16-year-old rape victim, Amina Filali, to “preserve” the honor of the girl’s family. Filali’s case, who later committed suicide, created outrage in the country with many activists called for changes and reforms in the penal court.

“A rapist belongs to jail and not elsewhere,” she said.

Hakkaoui hails from the Justice and Development Party, which became the ruling party since 29 November 2011. The party advocates Islamic democracy.

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