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. Her decision not to wear a hijab during her meeting with the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud, was not met warmly by Saudi’s who took to Twitter to express their anger, the Express has reported.
One translated Tweet read: “The German Defence Minister: not wearing the hijab in Saudi was deliberate. This is an insult to Saudi Arabia.”
According to an Iranian newspaper, 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.”
The abaya is a loose robe-like dress, worn by women in Muslim countries, which covers the whole body except for the head, feet and hands.
Von der Leyen was in Riyadh to meet Saudi deputy crown prince Salman Al-Saud, where she voiced her annoyance at the expectation that women cover up. The newspaper reported that although servants looked ‘astonished’ at the sight of the German minister in traditional dress, it did not spark any protests. 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.
‘The right to choose your own clothing is a right shared by men and women alike. It annoys me, when women women are to be pushed into the Abaya.’
The news comes after German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, called for a ban on the burqa in Germany.
The burqa 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 said threw her weight behind calls to outlaw the burqa and niqab wherever “possible”.
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 checks.
Buraqa’s are currently banned in France and earlier this year, three Muslim women who were caught wearing banned burkinis in Cannes were fined.
The women, aged 29, 32 and 57 were fined £30 for breaching the French law.
However an outspoken businessman Rachid Nekkaz stepped in to pay the fines as he believes the ban is in breach of “religious and human rights”.
Nekkaz set up a £700,000 fund in 2010 to pay fines for women caught wearing the burka when that was banned in France six years ago.