US President Barack Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to pay his respects to the late Saudi King Abdullah. However, on social media, much of the attention was on his wife Michelle. The First Lady, who was accompanying Barack Obama, did not wear a headscarf, sparking controversy.
According to Saudi Arabia's strict dress code for women, Saudi females are required to wear a headscarf and loose, black robes in public. Most women prefer to cover their heads and face with a veil, traditionally called niqab. However, foreign women are exempt from the rule.
The Washington Post said that photographs from different official events show many female dignitaries without headscarf. But that did not stop local Saudis from criticising Michelle Obama for being "immodest" on Tuesday.
On her arrival in Saudi Arabia, Michelle was seen in a long blue jacket and dark pants, accompanying Barack Obama to offer condolences on the death of King Abdullah death as well as to meet the new King Salman.
But the headscarf was conspicuous by its absence.
On Twitter, Saudis soon started posting messages using the hastag #ميشيل_أوباما_سفور, which roughly translates as #Michelle_Obama_unveiled or #Michelle_Obama_Immodest, Politoco notes.
Some of the users said that Michelle had worn a headscalf in her recent visit to Indonesia and asked why she chose not to do the same in Saudi Arabia:
— نورة العتيبي (@Riyadh_K_S_A) January 27, 2015
Meanwhile, a video shared on social media sites on Tuesday purportedly showed blurred images of the First Lady on Saudi TV, a claim denied by Saudi officials.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington tweeted:
Report by Bloomberg View's Josh Rogin that Saudi TV "blurred" image of First Lady Michelle Obama is FALSE. Should check facts, not Facebook
— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) January 27, 2015
The embassy also cited a tweet by CNN correspondent Hala Gorani which said: "Our Nic Robertson in Riyadh telling me footage he saw on Saudi TV did not show a blurred Michelle Obama."
According to ABC news, the blurred video being shared online could be a modified version of Al Saudiya's footage that was shared on YouTube, before it became viral.
The First Lady's office had no comment on her attire.
A video taken from the same channel's livestream of the visit, however, did not show any blur on the First Lady's images, the news channel noted.