Singer, and friend to Prince Harry, Joss Stone has sparked a row after the 32-year-old posted a picture of herself wearing a pink face-covering veil, the niqab, while on tour in Saudi Arabia.
“The women here are strong and exercising their choice to be free, wear what they want and do what they want", she wrote.
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Oh #saudiarabia how we love you so ! I cannot wait to tell everyone I meet to go visit this beautiful place filled with beautiful people yet again, pleasantly surprised. Took me a while to figure out how to keep this wrap from falling off and then when I finally got it I realised that I didn’t even have to wear it. What a shame ! So I wore it anyway because I love it. I love the different cultures we get a chance to come across and become part of, even if it’s for just one small tiny moment. It means so much. The women here are strong and exercising there choice to be free, wear what they want and do what they want, there want may be different to what we experience at home but there ain’t nothing wrong in that. To each her own. I spoke to female doctors , managers, directors, vocal specialists, hearing specialists, carers, a singer/performer/artist and they all tell the same tale. The horses mouth has spoken. Yes there are horrible things going on all over the world in many different corners and crevasses but these women individually felt they were not oppressed , they were highly educated and free to choose how they lived there lives. I can only ever speak of those that I have met I will not comment on what I have not seen with my own eyes because I have no right to. Assumption really is not something I wish to entertain. if you don't know , go have a look for yourself have a look for your self. I have come away from this inspired. Not just by the women but the men too with how they are celebrating the changes that are happening in Saudi Arabia they are not fighting against it as so many might assume . It seems to me that they are all walking forward together trying to make there world a better place. This is the feeling I got from my personal experience. I would really like to go back one day and explore this place further . Thanks for having me #saudiarabia
Opinions were divided on social media.
Some users praised the singer for her “cultural sensitivity” and “opening the eyes of the world”.
Holafulla wrote: “Most of [sic] people who don't like your post here are people who consume biased western media in their daily life”.
Pixchurthat wrote: “joss, you make the world a better place, day by day. mad respect".
Jurimarok commented: "You're so beautiful inside out spreading soul, vibes and love to people there and everywhere in this".
Others, however, have referred to the face veil worn by women in some Muslim countries as a symbol of the oppression of women. One user, Aztecone74wrote:
“The niqab is not a symbol of a free, powerful woman, it is one of oppression. Western liberal progressives and feminists are falsely portraying it as something beautiful and powerful".
Another, adriadri2000, commented: “You may like the hijab because you wear it as a kind of fun. But many women in the Middle East like the women of Iran are fighting with the hijab law on a daily basis".
“In most of those country [sic] (Iran, Saudi, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.) women have to fight for their vary [sic] basic rights. So for me as a Middle Eastern women [sic] who grew up under the Islamic laws it’s not fun to watch you wearing hijab, while many of my sisters are in prisons in Iran or Saudi because of fighting against it".
Joscelyn Eve Stoker, better known by her stage name Joss Stone, is an English singer, songwriter, and actress who shot to fame in late 2003 with her multi-platinum debut album, The Soul Sessions.
In 2012, her net worth was estimated to be £10 million, making her the fifth richest British musician under 30.
The 32-year-old has been friends with the British royal princes, Harry and William, for years and was in attendance at William’s wedding to Kate in 2011.
Joss often supports Prince Harry in his humanitarian work, and is an ambassador for Sentebale, founded by Harry and Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso to help young people affected by HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.