A first: anchorwoman appears on Egyptian TV wearing head veil

Details, from the Associated Press:

A female Egyptian news presenter appeared on state television wearing a veil for the first time on Sunday after the Islamist-dominated government lifted an effective ban that had been in place for decades under secular-leaning regimes of the past.

The ban on female news readers wearing the Islamic veil had long been criticized even by liberals and human rights activists as an infringement on personal freedoms — particularly in a country where more than half of all adult women cover their heads.

However, it was the latest move by authorities under new Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to make sweeping changes in state-controlled media. Just a few weeks ago, the Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament or Shura Council, shuffled editors of state-run media and most of the 50 new appointees were either Islamists or their sympathizers. Egypt’s journalists’ union has accused Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group of trying to make the media its mouthpiece.

Many Egyptians fear Morsi and the powerful Brotherhood, which was outlawed and persecuted under former regimes, will give priority to Islamist interests at the expense of deep reform of the bloated and inefficient bureaucracy or pressing needs such as widespread poverty and economic crisis.

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. With Morsi’s election and the appointment of the new Information Minister, Salah Abdel-Maksoud of the Muslim Brotherhood, she said she was given the “green light” to come back to state TV.

“Now the standards have nothing to do with the veil, which is a personal choice, but are all about professional skills and intellect,” she said.

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