Thursday 17 August 2017

First Lady shuns traditional Muslim headscarf

Stark contrasts to Obama visit as aging king greets Trump at airport, with anti-Iran alliances on the table, says Julie Pace

Melania Trump speaks with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. Photo: Getty Images
Melania Trump speaks with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. Photo: Getty Images

Julie Pace

US First Lady Melania Trump did not cover her head when arriving in Saudi Arabia on the opening leg of her husband's first international tour since taking office.

Two years ago, then-citizen Trump criticised then-first lady Michelle Obama's decision to go bare-headed during a visit with her husband in January 2015.

"Many people are saying it was wonderful that Mrs Obama refused to wear a scarf in Saudi Arabia, but they were insulted. We have enuf enemies," Trump tweeted at the time, including a shorthand spelling for "enough".

Saudi women and most female visitors are required by law to wear a loose black robe, known as an abaya, in public. Most women in Saudi Arabia also cover their hair and face with a veil known as the niqab.

While Melania dressed conservatively in a long-sleeved, black trouser suit accented with a wide, gold-coloured belt, her below-the-shoulder brown hair blew in the breeze.

On visits earlier this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also shunned head coverings.

Then-first lady Laura Bush generally went without covering her head, though she once briefly donned a headscarf that she received as a gift. Hillary Clinton, on trips to Saudi Arabia as Obama's secretary of state, also did not cover her head.

Trump's daughter Ivanka, a senior White House adviser who is also accompanying her father, also left her head uncovered.

Saudi Arabia adheres to an ultraconservative ­interpretation of Islamic sharia law under which unrelated men and women are segregated.

Sunday Independent

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