World Bulletin / News Desk
A female Egyptian news presenter appeared on state television wearing a veil for the first time on Sunday after the government lifted an effective ban that had been in place for decades under secular regimes of the past.
The ban on veils, enforced by state television for the half century it has been in existence, ended with the noon news bulletin when Fatma Nabil read out the headlines wearing a cream-colored headscarf and a dark suit.
Nabil worked for a year in the Muslim Brotherhood TV network Misr 25 after she was barred by state TV from appearing on air because of her veil.
Fatma Nabil, the first veiled news anchorwoman in the history of Egyptian television, said Sunday she was delighted to appear on the 12 noon news broadcast.
“Having felt bitter injustice before, I was very happy to read the news bulletin,” she said. “It is the qualifications that count, not appearances.
“It is an historic day for me,” she told Al-Masry Al-Youm by phone, adding that she had passed a test after the revolution but was not appointed as an anchorwoman because she was veiled.
State-owned television, which employees nearly 40,000 staff, is among the largest employers of public servants in the country. It has long been closely associated with the ruling elite and plagued by rampant corruption. It suffers from low viewership because of lack of professional standards and lackluster programming.
Under the former President Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian regime, ousted in last year's uprising, female TV employees who wore the veil would be asked to take jobs off camera. Some sued against the policy and won, but a Ministry of Information run by staunch regime loyalists ignored the rulings, and enforced a de facto ban. Mubarak's predecessors followed a similar line.
The vast majority of Muslim Egyptian women wear some form of head covering — from stylish scarves to the full face-covering veil called the niqab.