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Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud shakes hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 5, 2017. (Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS)

Political statement

British P.M. Theresa May rejects hijab in visit with Saudi Arabian crown prince

April 5, 2017

In a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and other dignitaries on Tuesday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, British Prime Minister Theresa May arrived in the country sans headscarf in a gesture that she said was meant to display that women can hold “significant positions.” Saudi Arabia, which follows a strict version of Sharia law, requires that all women in the country wear an abaya — a loose robe-lie dress — and that all Muslim women wear the hijab. In declining the hijab, May followed the example of several other major female leaders — including Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, and Laura Bush. In February, French politician and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen abruptly canceled a meeting with one of Lebanon’s top Muslim clerics over her refusal to wear a hijab for the planned get-together

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