German defence minister refuses to wear hijab during Saudi Arabia visit


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.


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 news comes after German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, called for a ban on the burqa in Germany. Speaking at a party conference last week, Merkel said threw her weight behind calls to outlaw the burqa and niqab wherever “possible”.

It comes in a week when a Saudi woman was arrested for taking off her veil in public.

READ MORE: Saudi Woman faces calls for execution after posting picture without hijab

The German minister shunned traditional Saudi attire, opting instead for a dark blue suit when she met her counterpart at the Divan Palace in the country’s capital.

Her decision sparked anger on Twitter in Saudi Arabia, Al Bawaba reported.

One Twitter user wrote: ‘Ok so why didn’t they arrest her? The hypocrisy and double standards.’

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.

Saudi Arabia has been criticised for its attitude to women, who are not allowed to hold driving licenses and who are expected to adhere to strict standards in the way they dress.

In 2013, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visited Saudi Arabia, where they met Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud.

Camilla was also bare-headed when she met King Abdullah, but as a member of the royal family, Saudi laws mean she is not not required to wear an abaya.


  1. How dare a mere woman come bare headed in front of the custodian’s of the Islamic Holy sites.
    Does she not know that her worth, is half of a man. How dare a woman even think for herself.
    This is un-Islamic, and needs to be condemned.
    Etc, etc, etc, etc

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