Veiled TV Presenter and the Power Puzzle in Egypt

by Nagwa Abdallah

Fatma Nabil, who wears a headscarf (hijab) while reading the news on Egyptian state television, has been covered intensely not only in the Egyptian media but also in regional and international media. Most headlines were similar to these: “First veiled news anchor appears on Egyptian state TV”  published by the Ahram Online and Al Jazeera, and “Veiled presenter Fatma Nabil is first to appear on Egyptian TV” in The Independent.

Most of the media reports concentrated only on the event itself, explaining how veiled TV presenters during President Hosni Mubarak’s era were forced to leave their positions. This change of allowing veiled presenters is among many made in the state-controlled media by the Islamist-dominated government. Many reports stressed how the hijab is widely worn by Egyptian women, and what kind of different and fashionable veils they wear.

What these reports are missing is the connection to the future plan of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), to which the President Mohammed Morsi belongs, to dominate the Egyptian political arena. Lifting the ban on veiled TV presenters is one way to gain the support of  religious people by making them believe that the government supports their rights, particularly those related to their religion. The MB knows that the television is the best media outlet to reach all  of the people, but the main target is those people who don’t read the newspapers but watch TV. What the ruling party is doing is not related to its ideology or that it wants to spread its ideas and thoughts.  Realistically, MB was involved for decades in politics and Egyptian society. The MB knows  that a big sector of the Egyptian people can be misled by the media, especially because nearly 40 percent are illiterate and many educated people can be manipulated thanks to a poor educational system.
A deeper look at what has been going in the state-media sector shows that the MB brought new editors-in-chief to all of the prominent newspapers. Some of the editors were anti-Muslim Brotherhood before the revolution, like the one chosen for the Al-Ahram newspaper, the oldest and most prestigious in the Middle East. What the MB cares about is that the new editors-in-chief can serve the group’s purpose. To keep their positions, the editors will use the newspapers as a propaganda tool among educated people.
The MB is building its network through the state television to gain control of public opinion. This goes along with other changes in the political arena, like appointing a number of MB members in different positions in the government. MB has a goal to reach, but it is forgetting a very important and essential fact, that the Egyptian people revolted for their rights which were violated for a long time by the old regime. Until now MB has not worked on restoring these rights and establishing a system that guarantees every citizen the right to a good education, dignified life and freedom. People will soon realize that there is no real change in their lives and at that point they will lose faith in the MB. The MB should be smart enough to know that deceiving Egyptians will make them lose everything, and the effect of allowing the first veiled TV presenter will not last forever.

(Photo by Flickr, through a Creative Commons License)

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