Saudi twitter storm after Germany’s first female defense minister dresses as she pleased on official visit

by WorldTribune Staff, December 15, 2016

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen sparked outrage in Saudi Arabia when she refused to wear traditional Muslim attire during her official visit to the kingdom.

“Ok so why didn’t they arrest her? The hypocrisy and double standards,” one user posted to Twitter.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen meets with Saudi officials in Riyadh. /Twitter
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen meets with Saudi officials in Riyadh. /Twitter

Saudi authorities earlier this month arrested a female citizen for taking off her veil in public.

“The German Defense Minister: not wearing the hijab in Saudi was deliberate. This is an insult to Saudi Arabia,” read another tweet.

Von der Leyen shunned the abaya, the black full length dress that covers the entire body but not the face, during her diplomatic visit to Riyadh on Dec. 8. She instead chose a dark blue trouser suit for her meeting with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al Saud.

“Of course, I respect the customs and customs of a country. I strive to comply with such rules. But for me there are limits to the way I adapt to the country,” she later told the German Bild magazine.

“I do not put on a headscarf and I wear trousers,” said von der Leyen, who added, “no woman in my delegation has to wear the abaya. Being able to choose your own clothes is a right for both men and women alike.”

The Independent noted that female politicians are often excused from covering their hair while visiting Saudi Arabia. Last year, Saudi television blurred Michelle Obama, who did not wear Islamic attire when visiting the kingdom with her husband following the death of King Abdullah.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has 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 earlier this month, Merkel said she supports calls to outlaw the burqa and niqab “wherever possible.”

“With us, the rule is: show your face, that’s why the full veil is not appropriate, it should be banned,” Merkel said.