Cairo: Veiled female cabin crews of Egypt’s national carrier, EgyptAir, were on Sunday allowed to serve on flights for the first time in the airline’s history amid secularists’ allegations that Islamists are seeking to reshape the country’s identity.

The stewards appeared wearing the Islamic headscarves or the hijab on the airline’s flights bound to Arab countries. Attendants on other flights, operated by the 80-year-old carrier, will be allowed to wear the hijab later this month when the airline takes delivery of distinct uniform headscarves, according to officials.

“Allowing women stewards to wear the hijab was in response to their wish. The company will not make it obligatory for other stewards to put it on,” said Abdul Aziz Fadel, deputy chairman of the EgyptAir Holding Company.

“The new uniform ordered by the company for the veil-wearing stewards will not affect their performance in serving passengers,” he added.

More than two months ago, the first veiled anchorwoman appeared on Egyptian state television, ending a decades-long ban.

Opponents say the moves are part of a purported plan by President Mohammad Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood to Islamise Egypt.

Mursi is Egypt’s first elected president who took office in June amid fears of the country’s liberals and minority Christians about freedoms.

Formerly banned Islamists have taken the centre-stage of Egypt’s politics after a popular uprising toppled long-standing president Hosni Mubarak in February last year.