German minister sparks anger after refusing to wear hijab in Saudi Arabia
Female German Defence minister has refused to wear a hijab during a visit to Saudi Arabia pic.twitter.com/3c5J9rhmRg— Nepareizais (@Nepareizais) December 14, 2016
Von der Leyen visited Riyadh for a meeting with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al Saud on Wednesday, but did not cover her hair for the event in the ultra-conservative state, reportedly saying women should enjoy the right to dress as they choose, just as men do.
The defense minister instead chose to wear a dark blue suit with her hair visible for the meeting.
“The right to choose your own clothing is a right shared by men and women alike,” she said, according to German news website Bild. "It annoys me, when women are to be pushed into the Abaya.”
While some social media users praised Von der Leyen’s decision, her actions also sparked outrage in Saudi Arabia. The apparent lack of a response from Saudi officials in relation to Von der Leyen’s clothing was described as "hypocrisy and double standards."
Saudi police reportedly detained a woman last week for violating modesty rules after being seen walking in Riyadh without a traditional robe and headscarf.
A number of Saudi staff were described as being “astonished” by Von der Leyen’s outfit, according to the German newspaper.
Fair play to the German Defence Minister for not covering up in Saudi Arabia. Why should she have to?! Madness— jessica rachel (@jessdwi) December 15, 2016
Von der Leyen’s decision comes after Merkel said the full-face burka covering should be banned “wherever it is legally possible” during the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) congress in Germany last week.