A female newsreader who didn’t wear a headscarf on Saudi Arabia state television has caused controversy across the Muslim nation.
A female newsreader who appeared on a state-owned television channel without a headscarf has caused controversy across Saudi Arabia.
The Independent reported that the unnamed anchorwoman, who has previously worn a hijab on television, was presenting the news from London for the Al Ekhbariya channel.
Al Ekhbariya, a Saudi Arabian news channel with offices in the Middle East, Europe and America, was the first government-owned channel to use female news readers when it launched in 2004.
It's believed the "unveiled" women was the first female news presenter to appear on a state-owned channel without a headscarf.
Saleh Al Mughailif, a spokesman for Al Ekhbariya, downplayed the incident and told Al Tawasul News the anchorwoman was broadcasting from their London offices.
"She was a correspondent reading the news from a studio in Britain," he said. "She was not in a studio inside Saudi Arabia and we do not tolerate any transgression of our values and the country’s systems."
A hijab is a scarf that covers the head and neck, but leaves the face uncovered. Hijab is also the name for the requirement to dress modestly as many Muslims believe that the Qur'an require both men and women to dress and behave modestly in public.
Women's rights activists have long fought for greater freedom in the Gulf kingdom, which applies a strict version of Sunni Islam and bans women from driving or travelling without the consent of a male guardian.
The incident has divided people online. Many praised it as being a step forward for women’s rights, while others said it went against Islamic traditions.
One user Adil from Dubai wrote: "Dont confuse Saudi Culture with Islam. Respect culture Respect Islam."
Abdul Rafeek commented: "This hijab not only in saudi arabia its compulsory all the Muslims around the world so i don't think there is any special requirement in saudi arabia."