German Defence Minister, Ursula von der Leyen has sparked outrage in Saudi Arabia for refusing to wear a hijab during an official visit.
The German Minister was in Riyadh to meet Saudi deputy crown prince Salman Al-Saud, where she voiced her annoyance at the expectation that women cover up.
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In a report, Minister Von der Leyen said: “No woman in my delegation will be required to wear the abaya, as the right to choose one’s attire is the right shared by men and women equally.”
Ursula von der Leyen and her team did not wear the traditional veil which is worn by women or the full-length Abaya garment even though she has claimed to ‘respect’ the country’s customs. She shunned the traditional Saudi attire, opting instead for a western blue suit.
Saudi Arabians did not take the German Defence Minister’s decision lightly as they have taken to social media to express their anger, calling it an insult to Saudi Arabia, and a deliberate act.
Just last week, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, called for a ban on the burka in Germany, just like France had done earlier.
The burka is the most concealing of all Islamic veils – it is a one piece which covers the face and body, often having just a mesh screen to see through.
Speaking at a party conference last week, Mrs. Merkel threw her weight behind calls to outlaw the burka and hijab wherever “possible”, because she believed the burka was a barrier to Muslim women becoming integrated into German society.
She said: “With us, the rule is: show your face, that’s why the full veil is not appropriate, it should be banned.”
The CDU, the ruling party in Germany, wants to ban the full face veil in courts, schools, and universities as well as in road traffic and during police check points.