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Saudi women join online movement by removing niqabs and hijabs

StepFeed logo StepFeed 21/09/2018 StepFeed
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The niqab, otherwise known as the face-veil, has stirred a lot of controversy in recent years, with decisions to ban the face-veil becoming all the more common across many European countries.

The face-veil is especially customary in parts of the Arab Gulf countries. However, contrary to common belief, it is not a requirement by law, not even in Saudi Arabia.

As per Saudi law - which is based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Sharia law - women, both foreign and local, must wear an abaya when out in public spaces, and locals must wear a hijab in some parts of the kingdom, including the capital city Riyadh.

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In an attempt to fight the kingdom's customs and traditions, which limit most women's personal freedoms, Taraf Alasiri posted a photo of herself without a niqab and hijab, sparking a movement on Twitter.

"I cut my hair and removed the niqab ... and I wondered why I've been covering my face this whole time. I realized it's because of silly habits and traditions that don't allow me to be free."

The hashtag #SolidarityWithTaraf went viral online

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Prominent Saudi women's rights activist Manal Al Sharif joined the conversation

Human rights activist and feminist Inna Shevchenko also shared her support

"Imagine your FACE and HAIR being such a brave act of resistance"

Other women shared their own photos in solidarity with Taraf

"I stand with you, Taraf"

Countless women joined the movement

Different Snapchat filters were used

"I stand with Taraf and with every free woman"

"My whole life I've been wanting to reveal my face and now that dream has been fulfilled"

"I'm with you and screw all the customs that have deprived us of freedom."

"I'm with all you women"

The removal of the niqab has sparked controversy numerous times in Saudi Arabia

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister for Girls' Education sparked a debate on Saudi Twitter after appearing in public without a niqab.

Haya Al Awad's personal choice was heavily criticized at the time.

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However, many defended the Deputy Minister's choice, including a few Saudi clerics who said the niqab isn't compulsory in Islam and it's a matter still open to research and discussion.

In 2017, a young Saudi lawyer was kicked out of a courthouse in Riyadh because she wasn't wearing a face veil.

In March, Crown Prince MBS said "Muslim women aren't required to wear the hijab and abaya"

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was interviewed by journalist Norah O’Donnell.

During the interview with U.S. television channel CBS News, MBS said - among other things - that Sharia law does not require women to wear the hijab and abaya.

He explained that Sharia law only requires women to dress modestly, as it also does for men.

"The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of Sharia: that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men," the prince said.

"This, however, does not particularly specify a black abaya or a black head cover. The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear," he added.

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