For the first time in history following a grueling court case, a verdict allowed that female television hosts and anchors working on Egypt's state TV have the right to wear the veil.
Although the ruling was announced just recently on December 4, the number of veiled TV hosts has notably escalated, ending the repression of freedom of attire formerly enforced by authorities.
The case of veiled TV hosts goes as far back as 1970, when Kariman Hamza wore the veil while presenting her TV show. The number increased in 2002 when 5 TV hosts working on the Alexandria channel 5 were prevented from appearing on their shows because of their veils.
In 2003, 6 veiled female hosts were also banned from appearing on air including 2 from the Nile News Channel, And 2 from the English Nile TV channel. All in all, 24 veiled TV hosts were banned from appearing on the screen before the revolution.
Since 1965, state TV had maintained a secular look, not allowing female anchors to appear with any religious symbols, despite no written statement banning the veil.
Many veiled hosts were reduced to roles behind the camera for wearing the veil, working on audio, while others handed in resignations for being denied the right to appear on air wearing their headscarves. State television and radio had banned hosts such as Kamelia el Araby from appearing. Former chairman Hassan Hamed had announced that any contracts would be annulled in the case of TV hosts choosing to wear the headscarf.
In reality, 95% of graduates from those majoring in radio and television journalism in Egypt wear the headscarf, causing a gap in the number of those able to be part of the workforce.
According to reporter Dina Zakareya, the court ruling restored the veiled TV hosts' rights following years of repression after they were banned from practicing their religious freedom.
She told Ikhwanweb: "I have been banned from appearing on television because of my headscarf and for being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). I then turned to Islamic satellite channels which accepted the veil, but was also prevented from appearing because of my political tendencies. I felt it was unjust. Following the revolution, things changed and veiled TV hosts began appearing on state run television."
"Wearing the veil does not stand between the woman and her work, nor does it pose any obstacles, since the veil covers the head not the mind, stereotyping the hosts appearance prevents those who are truly capable from appearing and this is unfair," Zakareya said.
For her part, TV host Duaa Farouk praised the revolution which restored the rights of hosts allowing them to appear more on the Egyptian screen and not just on religious programmes.
Dina Higazi, from Channel Three, welcomed the decision to allow her veiled colleagues to return to the channel. She stressed: "Although I do not wear the veil, I believe the verdict was just and a victory. Not allowing hosts to appear on television simply for covering their hair was a clear tilting of the scales especially as there is no charter stipulating this."
She wondered what the veil had to do with the hosts ability to efficiently do the job. "Any channel that rejects the host for wearing the veil is simply choosing hosts on their looks rather than their skills. It's simply following the former regime's policies. I have many friends who are TV hosts who wore the veil following the revolution and the verdict and were encouraged to appear with their headscarfs."
Channel Two host, Eman Nabil denied that the veil made her less chic, adding she was able to continue presenting her programme after the revolution and the ruling.
She added: "The veil has not prevented me from interacting with all sectors and religions. In fact, during one of my programmes while I was interviewing a Priest, he congratulated me on-air for wearing the veil."
She stressed that viewers and guests were more interested in what the host was saying rather than how she was dressed.
Mona Al-Wakeel pointed out that when she first wore the veil she received many phone calls on-air congratulating and encouraging her.
She refused to be categorized as the' veiled TV host' stressing: "People should not be measured by their attire as it has nothing to do with how well a job is performed. Wearing the veil is in compliance with Islam's teachings and nothing else."
Neveen el-Gendy narrates that she was banned from appearing on TV because of her veil and recorded programmes using her voice after being prevented from working on Channel Three.
She stated that the decision to ban hosts wearing the veil came from higher authorities and had nothing to do with the veil.
Following the revolution, she met with Colonel Tarek Al-Mahdy who acknowledged their right to appear on television since they were an important element in society, adding that both his wife and daughter wore the veil.
He gave her permission to appear on TV on March 18 and since then veiled TV hosts have appeared on state TV and the court verdict announced in December ensured them the right to officially appear on TV with their veils.