Saudi Arabia Erupts as News Anchor Appears on National TV without Headscarf

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | August 7, 2014 11:55 AM EST

There was uproar in Saudi Arabia after a female news anchor appeared on national television without wearing a headscarf. The news anchor, name undisclosed, read the headlines for the Al Ekhbariya news channel. Probably the only reason she was allowed to appear on a Saudi channel without the headscarf was that she read news from a London studio.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/Files
Camels are seen after the 20km camel race during the opening of the Janadriya festival near Riyadh, in this April 3, 2013 file photo. Scientists believe camels in Saudi Arabia are the main animal reservoir of MERS, a new disease that kills about a third of sufferers and has infected 339 people in the kingdom. Picture taken April 3, 2013. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/Files

The "uncovered" girl, whose body is completely covered in a jacket until the neck, has now become a part of a national scandal for the orthodox Muslim country. She apparently wore a hijab on her previous reading sessions as photos appeared online suggesting so. Saudi Arabia, a strictly Islamic country, formed its national legal system on the basis of the Islamic Sharia law. According to the Holy Quran, women are advised to wear "modest" clothes, a term often interpreted differently in various reasons.

In Saudi Arabia, women are strongly advised to cover themselves in clothes. They are required to wear headscarves along with full-length abayas and veils. There may be legal actions against women who do not dress "modestly" in Saudi Arabia. "Immodest" clothing may include not wearing the headscarf.

Similar laws regarding women's clothing exist in Iran. Iranian women were earlier encouraged to remove their hijab and upload their photos on Facebook. London-based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad created the Facebook page, called "Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women," on May 3, 2014. The page has already got more than 600,000 likes until August 6, 2014.

This was the first time a female news anchor was seen without a headscarf on national television. Saudi radio and television spokesman Saleh Al Mughailif said that the news anchor could do such an act of "transgression" as she was in London. "She was not in a studio inside Saudi Arabia and we do not tolerate any transgression of our values and the country's systems," he said.

Saudi Laws for Women Which May Intrigue You

Saudi Women will have the right to vote in 2015. So far, women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to cast vote.

Female rape victims may be prosecuted for having a physical relation with the rapist.

Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au

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(Photo: REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/Files / )
Camels are seen after the 20km camel race during the opening of the Janadriya festival near Riyadh, in this April 3, 2013 file photo. Scientists believe camels in Saudi Arabia are the main animal reservoir of MERS, a new disease that kills about a third of sufferers and has infected 339 people in the kingdom. Picture taken April 3, 2013. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/Files
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