President Barack and Michelle Obama travelled to Saudi Arabia yesterday to pay their respects to the new King Salman following the death of King Abdullah last week. The Obamas were greeted by an armed Saudi honor guard and a military band playing the national anthems for both the US and Saudi Arabia.
While many news outlets reported that several members of the all-male Saudi delegation refused to shake First Lady Michelle Obama's hand, it was only later that it emerged the reason that could be behind their actions.
And that is; Michelle Obama appeared without a head scarf. It is not only male figures in Saudi that are outraged. Female commentators are also not pleased. If for a different reason. This Muslimgirl writer complains that America continues to uphold the Saudi regime that continuously marginalizes women even though American women are not expected to comply to the same laws.
Meanwhile back in America, some have called Michelle leaving off the scarf as bold, courageous and revolutionary. She has been applauded by various sections of the media as an example of the oppressive policies on women in Saudi Arabia. Even previous opponents on the Republican and conservative side hail her.
The firestorm rages on. See some of the commentary on Twitter below..
Headscarf is not necessary for foreign female guests but Michelle Obama wore loose clothing, covering her arms & legs pic.twitter.com/jRZCF260xG
— Brahma Chellaney (@Chellaney) January 28, 2015
Michelle Obama getting hit or praised for no head scarf misses that no American (not delegation, O advisers, staff) wore one. (I was there.)
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) January 28, 2015
Michelle Obama does as Laura Bush - skipped the scarf - but that was then and this is now... a black Flotus #Fauxrage pic.twitter.com/lxtcQL068t
— Steve Marmel (@Marmel) January 28, 2015
@AbangMercy but my honest Opinion is that Michelle Obama should have won the head scarf just to humour them. My boss did when she went.
— Keneike (@keneike) January 28, 2015
For us who've been forced to wear hejab, follow others' beliefs, 4 oppressed women everywhere, thank you @FLOTUS #Michelle_Obama_NotVeiled
— Niaz Kasravi (@NiazKasravi) January 28, 2015