A Saudi TV reporter has been forced to flee the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after being accused of “indecent dress” during one of her segments. Shereen al-Rifaie was filming a report on Saudi women being granted the right to drive when she was seen wearing clothing that supposedly violated regulations in the country: a loose scarf with a white abaya (a traditional dress), which was left open, revealing her trousers and blouse beneath it.
According to Haaretz, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media announced that it would be opening an investigation after a video of the incident was circulated on social media.
Almost unbelievably, the video caused such a stir that Twitter users started a hashtag that read (translated from Arabic): “a naked woman driving in Riyadh” along with messages of outrage at al-Rifaie’s attire.
— صحيفة عاجل (@ajlnews) June 26, 2018
According to the Economist, Saudi women are required to wear black cloaks known as abayas, which are “usually paired with the hijab (headscarf) or niqab (which leaves a slit for the eyes), or a burqa (which covers the body from head to toe, with a mesh for the eyes).”
All versions of Islam suggest a woman should dress modestly, but only a few Muslim-majority nations enforce a dress code like the one adhered to in Saudia Arabia.
The General Commission for Audiovisual Media stated that the investigation into al-Rifaie will proceed despite al-Rifaie leaving the country. She works for the Al-Aan TV station from the United Arab Emirates.
The presenter has vehemently dismissed the accusations, telling the Saudi news website Ajel: “I was wearing decent clothes, and God will reveal the truth of what has been said about me.”