Yesha Callahan

Michelle Obama Sparks Controversy for Not Wearing Headscarf in Saudi Arabia

US President heads high profile delegation to Saudi Arabia

FLOTUS Michelle Obama is receiving some faux ‘backlash’ this week for deciding not to don a headscarf or veil while visiting Saudi Arabia with President Barack Obama to pay their respects after the death of King Abdullah.

Some Saudis took to Twitter and created a hashtag that translates to “#Michelle_Obama_Immodest” or “#Michelle_Obama_NotVeiled” to criticize FLOTUS for being disrespectful to their traditions.

According to the AP, women are required to wear headscarves by Saudi law, but there is an exemption for foreigners. In addition to the FLOTUS, former secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice also did not cover her head as while in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

Past FLOTUS’s Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush have also appeared in public meeting Saudi royals without wearing headscarves. But the State Department advises other American women visiting the country to following the rules.

“Women who choose not to conform to this dress code face a risk of confrontation by Mutawwa (religious police) and possible detention/arrest,” the State Department says on its website. “While most incidents have resulted only in inconvenience or embarrassment, the potential exists for an individual to be arrested, physically harmed, or deported.”

More than 1,500 tweets using the hashtag #ميشيل_أوباما_سفور (roughly, #Michelle_Obama_immodesty) were sent Tuesday, many criticizing the FLOTUS. Some made sure to point out Michelle wore a headscarf on a recent trip to Indonesia, and questioned ‘why not in Saudi Arabia?’ But, many are not buying the ‘backlash’ and calling this whole incident faux controversy.

The office of the FLOTUS has not issued a statement at this time.

Photo Credits: AP

  1. January 28, 2015 - Reply

    She wasn’t at a mosque and she was dressed modest.

  2. January 28, 2015 - Reply

    She is the First Lady, they should be honored she set foot in their country. Every last one of those men looked at a whole lot more than a woman’s hair when they were young and frisky princes.

  3. January 28, 2015 - Reply

    Many people are overreacting. First Lady Michelle Obama was not required to wear a headscarf. She is a visitor to Saudi Arabia from a foreign country. Michelle Obama was not being disrespectful to Saudi Arabian customs at all. Also, Condoleezza Rice and Laura Bush did not wear headscarves constantly when they were in Saudi Arabia either. First Lady Michelle Obama wore appropriate clothing and the ignorant hastags (which are criticizing her) are just that, ignorant. What is really important is to witness that the First Lady is rightfully expressing herself and showing the world that women don’t have to submit to oppression at all. First Lady Michelle Obama is a strong mother, a beautiful black woman, and a very intelligent human being.

    • January 28, 2015 - Reply

      Hey Truth, how are you! I agree with you, brother!

      • January 28, 2015 - Reply


        I am doing great today Sister. How are you doing today Sister Noirluv45?

  4. January 28, 2015 - Reply

    It’s a catch 22 she would be criticized for whatever she wore or didn’t wear.

    • January 28, 2015 - Reply

      @Mary Burrell

      Exactly Sister Mary Burrell.

  5. January 29, 2015 - Reply

    Michelle looked #flawless

    • January 29, 2015 - Reply



      #She looked very flawless.

  6. June 8, 2015 - Reply

    Defiance annoying factor simply Michelle refuse wear head dress. Not a mess I guess not stress Arab nations contradiction using religion to conceal. Oppression
    racist Gulf states indirectly seek establish culture EU. I’ll say this Catholic can we build churches in Ummah? Expect equality for women non Arabs why liberal Arabs
    conflict ancient traditions. Gulf states hate Blacks many engineers fired the arrested. Using religion when travel read media on wealth. Many use top hotels refuse to pay.

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