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Egypt lifts ban on veiled news anchors

Egypt lifted a decades-long ban on veiled female news reporters on Sunday by having Fatma Nabil read the noon news in a headscarf. This broadcast marked the first time a woman appeared on Egyptian state TV wearing a veil in over 50 years. The ban had been perpetuated by previous regimes [Al Jazeera report] and had long been criticized by human rights activists as a restriction on women's freedom of choice. Previously, women who wished to wear a veil were encouraged to take off-camera jobs. Some women had successfully sued the previous regime to halt the policy, but the information ministry ignored the rulings and continued to enforce the ban.

Egypt President Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] has made several changes to Egypt social policy recently. Earlier this month Morsi issued a new law that bans pre-trial detentions of journalists [JURIST report] for speaking out against the government. This decree ended the previous regime's practice of jailing journalists who commit so-called "publication offenses," which include "offending the president of the republic." Last month Morsi ordered the release [JURIST report] of 572 people convicted in tribunals by the Egyptian military. 9,714 individuals have been released out of the 11,879 Egyptians detained by the military since last year's uprising. Also that month Morsi appointed a fact-finding committee to investigate the deaths of protesters [JURIST report] in last year's demonstrations. The committee is charged with reopening files related to the deaths of nearly 1,000 protesters in the uprising last year that led to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak [JURIST news archive].

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