Angela Merkel's Defence Minister Sparks Outrage After Refusing To Cover Up On Saudi Trip

December 15, 2016

The German defence minister has caused outrage in Saudi Arabia after she refused to wear a hijab during an official visit.

Ursula von der Leyen and her team did not wear the traditional veil which is worn by women or the full length Abaya garment even though she has claimed to ‘respect’ the country’s customs.

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.

The hijab is the word used to describe headscarves worn by Muslim women which cover their heads.

Ursula von der Leyen, who became Germany's first female defence minister on 17 December 2013. Previously she was appointed Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs on 30 November 2009 and, prior to that, Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth from 2005.



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