Angela Merkel Is Latest Leader to Go Hijab-Free in Saudi Arabia

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When British Prime Minister Theresa May visited Saudi Arabia in early April, she caused a stir — drawing both criticism and support — because she did not wear a headscarf, as women are expected to do under Islamic law. And on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel followed suit, arriving in Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jiddah without her head covered. Perhaps not a surprise, considering that she has called for a burqa ban in her home country “wherever it is legally possible” and probably saw this visit as a way to highlight her beliefs about such modesty laws for women.

Meanwhile, in Germany’s neighboring Austria, President Alexander Van der Bellen has just called for all women to wear headscarves in solidarity with Muslim women and to fight “Islamophobia,” telling a group of students, “It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants; that is my opinion on the matter.”

But where do other female world leaders stand on the hijab question? Here’s how a handful have chosen to respond, by example, while on official business in Islamic nations.

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