As advertised, the President embarked on the first trip abroad of his presidency this week, with the initial stop being in Saudi Arabia. He was joined by both the First Lady and his daughter Ivanka. Seen exiting Air Force One, Melania Trump, as always, looked completely stunning. (Click on image for full size picture)
Since they were landing in Saudi Arabia, you may have noticed something conspicuously missing from the First Lady’s ensemble. She’s not wearing a head scarf as is the custom in that country and some other Muslim majority nations. (Ivanka was spotted not wearing one either.) Lest you think that Hot Air has suddenly turned into a fashion blog, fear not. I am assured by some reliable sources in the mainstream media that is a Big Freaking Deal. (Hat tip to Joe Biden.) In fact, so important was the question that the Washington Post was running a lengthy article yesterday, nervously wondering… would she or wouldn’t she?
They begin by discussing the last First Lady trip to this location when Michele Obama showed up there, also with her hair uncovered.
Before long, her lack of headscarf was triggering discussion back in the United States, as well. Many supported the first lady, arguing that gender equality shouldn’t take a back seat to religious sensitivities. However, one prominent Twitter user disagreed: “Many people are saying it was wonderful that Mrs. Obama refused to wear a scarf in Saudi Arabia, but they were insulted,” Donald Trump wrote. “We have enuf enemies.”
Two years later, the shoe is on the other foot. This weekend President Trump will arrive in Riyadh for his first trip as leader of the United States. Accompanying him will not only be his wife, Melania, but daughter Ivanka. It is unclear if the president will insist that they wear headscarves in Saudi Arabia, though it seems unlikely.
Clearly this article had less to do with whether or not the FLOUTS would don a scarf than exploiting the opportunity to accuse the President of hypocrisy or flip flopping or what have you, all based on a tweet from years ago.
Many people are saying it was wonderful that Mrs. Obama refused to wear a scarf in Saudi Arabia, but they were insulted.We have enuf enemies
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2015
So if Michele Obama did the same thing and the world didn’t end, is the story still really a big deal? Apparently so. Across the pond, the Telegraph was all over this news as soon as the doors on the plane opened. And back home, ABC was going live with it before most of the country was even awake.
First lady Melania Trump stepped off Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport Saturday morning without a head scarf — following the example of her predecessor, Michelle Obama — and potentially creating a stir in this conservative Islamic country.
Women here, including visitors and foreign dignitaries, are expected to be fully covered in public, including their head and hair, per religious and legal code.
Senior adviser Ivanka Trump, traveling as part of the presidential entourage, was also seen not wearing an abaya.
Everyone is looking for an angle and ABC seems to be no exception, working the phrase, “potentially creating a stir” into their very first sentence. But while there may have been some more conservative Saudis sitting at home and taking offense, nobody in the royal family or their entourage seemed to bat an eye. After the arrival ceremony the First Family was seen sitting inside of an opulent hall, with both Melania and Ivanka chatting away with men from the royal family and it looked like all smiles and cordial conversation.
This wasn’t a surprise because the Saudis have really backed off on that rule when it comes to foreign dignitaries. Not only did Michele Obama go there sans scarf, but she was imitated by other high ranking women including Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Marine Le Pen and Theresa May. Even if some of the most conservative Saudis don’t care for it, it seems that the ruling family has finally dragged themselves out of the fifteenth century and accepted the fact that not everyone is going to go along with those rules. They could either change with the times or stop hosting a lot of western leaders.
And really, how would it have looked if the First Lady had come off the plane wearing an abaya? Given the President’s tough talk on radical Islam and his take on American exceptionalism it would have conveyed the appearance of bending a knee to the Saudi royal family. That’s just not his style. So all in all, it looks as if the media is far more “concerned” over this than anyone in either of the governments involved.