Court overrules decision to ban veiled TV hosts

The Alexandria Administrative Court on Sunday over-ruled the former information minister’s decision to ban a TV host from appearing on screen because she wore a headscarf.

The verdict came after a case was filed by Channel 5 presenter Lamiyaa al-Amir in 2008 against former Information Minister Anas al-Fiqi, who banned her from appearing on the screen with her hair covered.  

In its rationale, the court said the headscarf is a symbol of decency, and banning women from wearing it violates her personal freedom.

Egypt’s state TV is considered the oldest state-run TV in the Middle East. At the time of its establishment in 1960, no female presenters wore headscarves. But later, when the headscarf became more common among the vast majority of Muslim women, state TV refused to let presenters wear it.

The rare case of a veiled presenter was in the early 1990s with Kariman Hamza. She fought a legal battle against former Information Minister Safwat al-Sherif, who was in charge of national TV from 1982 to 2004.

The absence of veiled presenters has traditionally served as ammunition for religious and conservative forces to attack the former regime on the basis of religion.

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