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    German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen talks to journalists prior to the start of an European Union Defence Ministers' meeting at the EU Council in Brussels on November 17, 2015

    German Defense Minister Refusing to Wear Hijab Causes Saudi Outrage

    © AFP 2016/ THIERRY CHARLIER
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    Controversy arose after German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her entourage refused to wear hijab head coverings or the full length abaya garment while visiting Riyadh last week.

    Von der Leyen said that she "respect[s] the customs and traditions of the country," but added that, "No woman in my delegation will be required to wear the abaya, as the [right] to choose one’s attire is a right shared by men and women equally," according to Iran Front Page

    Her announcement came days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a ban on the burqa head covering in Germany.

    During a meeting with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al Saud, her counterpart in Saudi Arabia, Von der Leyen wore a dark blue suit while al Saud donned the traditional ghutrah head covering and white thobe garment.

    After images of Von der Leyen dressed in European clothing appeared in Saudi News, Saudis tweeted their disdain. Al Bawaba translated one tweet as, "The German Defense Minister: Not wearing the hijab in Saudi was deliberate. This is an insult to Saudi Arabia!"

    The two defense officials discussed Berlin support for training Saudi officers who will be traveling to Germany to study in 2017. Arab News quotes German Embassy official Michael Ohnmacht saying after the meeting, "The talks between Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed and the German minister focused on ways and means to beef up Saudi-German cooperation in different areas including high-level exchanges, personnel education and training, defense, mutual visits and security affairs." 

    There was a popular similar response in the Saudi twitterverse after US First Lady Michelle Obama did not don a hijab while visiting Riyadh with her husband, US President Barack Obama, for the funeral of King Abdullah.

    Hashtags #Michelle_Obama_Immodest and Michelle_Obama_NotVeiled trended briefly on Twitter, and some members of the all-male Saudi delegation shook the first lady’s hand while others merely nodded while walking past her.

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    Tags:
    burqa, hijab, Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, Ursula von der Leyen, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh
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    • pbeckein reply tojas(Show commentHide comment)
      jas,
      Not sure what you mean, Jas. As a kind of cod-piece ?
    • jasin reply topbecke(Show commentHide comment)
      pbecke, I mean most western women are just too much hassle to care about. They'd rather complain than breathe. An eastern chick would pull her favorite scarf over her head and with a quiet smile, look great. She wouldn't make a big deal of "asserting" herself.
    • Mikhas
      Saudi Barbarians knew and their simian gut feeling told them that "Michelle" Obongo is a dude with a freaking D between its legs so obviously they had no problem with him. Judging by the picture above and note were the "prince" is scratching himself, this was a welcome "kinky" moment for them.
    • Caleb Stephen
      Not surprising. Religion of peace at it again.
    • horseguards
      The Saudi offence is the Western antithesis of how the majority of Westerners feel about muslim coverings, ie. we don't want them.
    • PaleRiderin reply tojas(Show commentHide comment)
      jas, your killing me man, a "rolled sock" and "an Eastern chick," but you may have something there.
    • PaleRiderin reply toMikhas(Show commentHide comment)
      Mikhas, Jas, pbecke, and Caleb, you guys are just brutal today!
    • NATOisEVIL
      Oh the whining muslims. They make demands every where, either they are at home or abroad.
    • tom.hanko
      I am sure this will be discussed as very couragous in german newspapers,
      to cheer her.
      But it means nothing.
    • Hagbard Celine
      Well how do you expect someone that does not even respect their own culture to respect other cultures ?
    • Danin reply tomarcanhalt(Show commentHide comment)
      She clothed like a man, suite, so the Saudi's could as well have imagined her as a man, and let her meet them without Hijab !
    • Erik Trete
      Good for her! When the saudis finally accept and follow western cultural norms when they are in western countries, then and only then do they have any expectation that westerners should accept saudi culture in saudi arabia. Quid Pro Quo!
    • Linda
      Well if European women are demanded to wear hijab in Arab countries all Muslim women in Europe should be demanded to to not cover their hair in europe
    • tobi.gelandoin reply toMikhas(Show commentHide comment)
      Mikhas,
      Very good observation Mikhas . your comment make me a good day !!!
      Of course you are 100 % Right :)
      You should get a Oscar for this observation !!!
    • arpito
      should have f'ked the sheik to please his highness
    • john galt
      Wahabbism is a stain on humanity. When one of these 7th century ME countries finally get the bomb, don't think they'll hesitate using on someone. I pray when they do the response will make their future problems existential.
    • Jonathan Ferguson
      Wahhabi head-choppers #literallytriggered at the sight of woman's hair. You need a #safespace hun? x
    • Jonathan Ferguson
      Shadows of Orianna! (Fallaci...)
    • pbeckein reply tojas(Show commentHide comment)
      jas, Sure. But she looks a character, and to me, it was a bit of fun. The last of the great actresses. Besides, the Saudi leader's money has given them too much power, and their women seem to be excessively imposed upon. Both sexes see to have been corrupted in their different ways.

      Here is an interesting artilcle about the little-known benefit of traditional, mainstream, Catholic Christianity :

      bible.org/article/christianity-best-thing-ever-happened-women

      I'm not wild about Dorthy Sayer's complaint, though, as I think it's healthy that we maintain a healthy jocular attitude towards la difference it's part of the magic. Though I believe she was a lesbian, which might explain it.
    • Adrienne Adonis
      The Saudis need to respect the Anglo Saxon way of life and religious beliefs as well. Ursula is not telling the Saudis that in her presence the women need to take off their jihab in respect for the catholic faith ! So the Saudis need to keep their mouths shut and stop trying to enforce their religious beliefs on non Muslim nations.
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