Female German minister REFUSES to wear a hijab during visit to Saudi

A German minister has refused to wear a hijab during a visit to Saudi Arabia – saying women should have the same right to choose their clothing as men.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s stand came a week after Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the burka to be banned.

Von der Leyen was in Saudi capital Riyadh to meet deputy crown prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, where she voiced her annoyance at the expectation that women cover up.

But it sparked anger in the deeply-conservative state, where social media users called for her to be arrested.

It comes in a week when a Saudi woman was arrested for taking off her veil in public.

The German minister voiced her annoyance at the expectation that women should wear traditional clothing when visiting the country

The German minister shunned traditional Saudi attire, opting instead for a dark blue suit when she met her counterpart at the Divan Palace in the country’s capital.

Her decision sparked anger on Twitter in Saudi Arabia, Al Bawaba reported.

One Twitter user wrote: ‘Ok so why didn’t they arrest her? The hypocrisy and double standards.’

Another posted: ‘The German Defense Minister: Not wearing the hijab in Saudi was deliberate. This is an insult to Saudi Arabia!’

Speaking of her refusal to wear full-length robes, known as the abaya, Das Bild reports, she said: ‘No woman in my delegation has to wear the abaya.

‘The right to choose your own clothing is a right shared by men and women alike. It annoys me, when women are to pushed into wearing the abaya.’

The newspaper reported that although servants looked ‘astonished’ at the sight of the German minister in traditional dress, it did not spark any protests.

Camilla did, however, wear a headscarf when she arrived in Saudi Arabia during a tour of the Middle East in 2013The Duchess of Cornwall visited Saudi Arabia three years ago with Prince Charles

All women in Saudi Arabia – local and foreign – are legally required to wear an abaya – which is a traditional full-body covering.

Muslim women must also wear a headscarf – or hijab – but foreigners do not need to.

The face does not need to be covered, but some opt to wear the full burka.

Von der Leyen followed the example set by US First Lady Michelle Obama, who was condemned in Saudi Arabia when she went bare-headed on a visit with her husband last year.

Saudi Arabia has been criticised for its attitude to women, who are not allowed to hold driving licenses and who are expected to adhere to strict standards in the way they dress.

In 2013, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visited Saudi Arabia, where they met Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud.

The Prince Of Wales and The Duchess Of Cornwall met King Abdullah in Riyadh in 2013, but as a member of the royal family, Camilla is not required to wear an abaya

Camilla was also bare-headed when she met King Abdullah, but as a member of the royal family, Saudi laws mean she is not not required to wear an abaya.

British Foreign Office guidelines state: ‘Women should observe the strict Saudi dress code and wear conservative and loose-fitting clothes, including a full-length cloak (abaya) and a keep a scarf with them in case they are asked to cover their head by the Hai’a, commonly known as Muttawa (Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice/Religious Police).

‘Men should not wear shorts in public or go without a shirt. Visitors should always seek guidance concerning acceptable clothing.’

The woman, who has been identified as Malak Al Shehri, shared a photograph of herself without a hijab or abaya - a traditional body covering - in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The woman, who has been identified as Malak Al Shehri, shared a photograph of herself without a hijab or abaya – a traditional body covering – in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The woman, in her 20s, was taken to prison, he said, also accusing her of ‘speaking openly about prohibited relations with (non-related) men’.

‘Riyadh police stress that the action of this woman violates the laws applied in this country,’ Maiman said, urging the public to ‘adhere to the teachings of Islam’.

The oil-rich desert kingdom has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive.

After her arrest, Saudis reacted with fury to her actions.

One message of abuse reportedly read: ‘The least punishment for her is beheading her.’

Another wrote: ‘Kill her and throw her body to the dogs’, while one said ‘we want blood’ after the picture went viral.
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