CAIRO - Wearing a cream-colored hijab, a veiled anchorwoman has appeared on Egypt's state television for the first time in decades, drawing a wide support in the pivotal Arab country.
"To be fair, veiled anchors were severely discriminated against, Sally Zohney, a member of Baheya Ya Masr, an Egyptian women's rights movement, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday, September 3.
There were many veiled women with the right qualifications but they weren't allowed to appear on television.
A veiled anchor appeared on Egypt's state television on Sunday for the first time in its five-decade history.
Wearing a delicate make-up and cream-colored hijab, the presenter, Fatma Nabil, read the evening news bulletin.
"The appearance of a veiled announcer on Egyptian television for the first time is a victory for freedoms and does not diminish (freedoms) as some imagine, Samih Toukan, commented on the issue on albawaba website.
Is barring a veiled woman from presenting a program freedom?"
Under the ousted regime of president Hosni Mubarak, veiled anchors were banned from appearing on state television.
But the ban was reversed after the election of Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically-elected president.
Information minister Salah Abdel Maksoud said Saturday that more hijab-clad female anchors would be allowed on state-owned TV networks.
"This is a case of personal freedom. There is no problem," Khaled Atef, a bank employee, told Reuters.
He stressed that the move should not be considered a political gesture.
The reversal has won a showering praise for putting an end to a decades-long discrimination against veiled women.
"The long unfair discrimination against veiled women has been removed after the revolution, as they were the ones discriminated against, not us," Shahira Amin, a news anchor on state-run Nile TV, who does not don hijab, told Reuters.
While welcoming the move, journalist Rawya Rageh called for deeper reforms in the Egyptian media.
"Reform in state media should be about more than appearances (veil), she wrote on Twitter.
It should be about undoing the practice of being the state's mouthpiece.
The move, however, has not gone without criticism, as some are worried that it would lead to discrimination against non-veiled women in Egypt.
"My concern now is the growing factor among viewers that this is how a woman should look like in order to be respectful or modest this is what is scary," Zohney, the Baheya Ya Masr member, told the Los Angeles Times."I'm against discrimination completely, but that does not mean society should start harassing non-veiled girls."