News worth knowing, courtesy of the BBC…
For what is believed to be the first time in Egyptian state TV history – yesterday, Sunday, September 2, a woman news presenter (Fatima Nabil, donning the Muslim hijab headdress) wore an Islamic headscarf.
In short, under ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s regime (1981 – 2011), there was an unofficial ban on women appearing on state TV with their heads/hair covered; veiled women in the TV industry were instead given jobs behind the cameras. Some of them reportedly sued against the unofficial ban and won, but Mubarak didn’t acknowledge court rulings, taking a stance that strongly opposed the introduction of Islamic values, says the BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo.
But the ban has long been criticized by human rights activists who saw it as an infringement on personal freedoms.
The new Muslim Brotherhood-led government introduced new rules which state that Egyptian women should wear headscarfs. New Information Minister Salah Abdel-Makshoud, a Brotherhood member, pointed out the fact that women on other Arab TV channels do cover their hair.
As Fatima Nabil later shared on Twitter: “At last the revolution has reached state television… This decision is not a grant, but a legal right… The revolution [against Mubarak] erupted to set things right. Barring hijab wearers from appearing on state television was against the law, constitution and democracy.“
Fatima joined Egyptian radio as a translator in 1999. Four years later, she moved to the news desk of state television. In July 2011, five months after a revolt deposed Hosni Mubarak, Fatima was audited in a contest for new TV presenter. Although she came first, she was not allowed to appear on the screen because of her wearing the hijab. Instead she appeared wearing the hijab on a TV station launched by the formerly banned Muslim Brotherhood after Mubarak’s ouster. She worked for months there until she was informed of an official approval to appear on state television.
And although her current job is as a presenter of news bulletins, Nabil, a mother of 2, says that it’is likely she will eventually host news talk shows, and other similarly dressed news anchors and weather presenters, can be expected to follow Nabil.
It’s worth noting that veiled women TV news anchors and presenters have been allowed on private TV stations, and the vast majority of Muslim Egyptian women wear some form of head covering.