It has caused a bit of a stir among political observes that both Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump wore veils on their heads to meet Pope Francis, but went bare-headed while visiting Saudi Arabia.
There’s a discussion going on as to the why the First Lady and First Daughter wore head coverings in presence of the Catholics, and they didn’t in presence of Muslims.
Leave aside the ‘controversy’, the answer to this is quite simple: Following the tradition of other diplomats, Melania decided to forgo a head covering when she visited the capital of Saudi Arabia – a luxury yet to be extended to other foreign women, or the kingdom’s female residents.
So basicly a headscarf in the middle east is a sign of submission but when visiting the pope it’s part of our culture? pic.twitter.com/bhcnY0Rt3x
— Aafke (@aafkevultink) May 24, 2017
Even in 2013, former US President Barack Obama’s wife Michelle Obama hadn’t worn a head scarf in Saudi Arabia.
The First Lady decided to not to cover her head because Melania was not expected by the Saudis to wear the covering.
However, when it comes to meeting the Pope, visitors to the Vatican City are asked in advance to keep their shoulders covered, and their skirts below the knee.
Apparently Melania and Ivanka were forced to wear black abaya and veil in the Vatican (not Saudi Arabia) pic.twitter.com/D4Rgvzn2z5
— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) May 24, 2017
The Vatican protocol is that the women who have an audience with the pope must wear long sleeves, formal black clothing and a veil to cover their head.
Notably, during the presidential campaign of 2016, Pope Francis had called the President’s border wall policy ‘not Christian’.
“In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges, to not respond to evil with evil. A Christian would never say ‘you will pay for that.’ Never,” the Pope had said while indirectly lashing out at Trump.
At the time, Donald Trump had responded by saying the Pope’s questioning of his faith was ‘disgraceful’.