U.S. media is reporting on the first appearance of a veiled news anchor on Egyptian state television. According to a New York Times report:
September 2, 2012 CAIRO — In what was called a first for Egyptian state television, a woman wearing a head scarf presented headlines in a newscast on Sunday, breaking with a code of secular dress that for decades effectively barred the wearing of Islamic head coverings. Egyptian TV, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Fatma Nabil is said to be the first anchor to wear a hijab on Egyptian state television. The anchor, Fatma Nabil, wearing a dark suit coat and an off-white hijab that covered her hair and neck, presented headlines at noon on Channel 1, one of several television stations operated by the state. A vast majority of Egyptian women choose to wear some form of Islamic head covering. By Sunday evening, however, an online debate had broken out over whether Ms. Nabil’s appearance might be one step in an effort by President Mohamed Morsi, a former leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, to encourage a more Islamic sensibility on Egyptian newscasts and in society. Veiled women have been presenting the news for years on private satellite television here, including Ms. Nabil, who previously worked for the Brotherhood’s satellite station, Misr 25. Her appearance on Channel 1 was announced Saturday by the newly appointed information minister, Salah Abdel-Maqsoud, a Brotherhood member, who told an interviewer that Ms. Nabil’s wearing of the hijab would represent the ‘enforcement of the principle of justice in the field of media,’ in the spirit of the Egyptian revolution, according to MENA, the official state news agency. At least three other veiled women will soon be appearing on state television, including a weather presenter, Mr. Abdel-Maqsoud said, a shift from the standards established when state television was founded five decades ago. Though head scarves were not explicitly disallowed, in practice they were tolerated only for off-screen employees. ‘Why is the veil denounced in Egypt while 70 percent of Egypt’s ladies are veiled?’ Mr. Abdel-Maqsoud asked, according to the Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm. ‘It’s a shame that veiled women appear on Arab and international channels while they don’t in Egypt.’ Under the secular authoritarians who preceded Mr. Morsi, state television functioned as a mouthpiece of the government. Until recently, state news media appeared to be campaigning against Mr. Morsi, with coverage that broadly favored the military leaders who have vied for influence with the Islamist president. In a move that consolidated his power, Mr. Morsi forced the retirement of the top military commanders last month and nullified a constitutional declaration by the military that had stripped the presidency of much of its power.
A post from earlier this month reported on efforts by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to control the nation’s media. In what appears to be a gesture towards international pressure, various media are reporting that Egyptian President Morsi has issued a decree rescinding preventive detention for publish offenses and the freeing of a newspaper editor jailed for alleged publishing crimes. MEMRI has published a report titled “Muslim Brotherhood Efforts To Take Over Egyptian Media.”