Middle East

Saudi TV presenter investigated over 'indecent' clothing

File photo of Shireen al-Rifaie Image copyright Al Aan TV
Image caption Shireen al-Rifaie insisted that she had been wearing "decent" clothing

The Saudi authorities are investigating a female TV presenter after she wore "indecent" clothing while reporting on the end of the ban on women driving.

Shireen al-Rifaie was being filmed when her abaya - a loose-fitting, full-length robe - was blown open by the wind, revealing her clothes underneath.

A clip sparked outrage online, with critics using the Arabic hashtag "naked_woman_driver_in_Riyadh".

Ms Rifaie, a Saudi who works for Dubai-based Al Aan TV, denied any wrongdoing.

Saudi Arabia's royal family and its religious establishment adhere to an austere form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism.

The authorities for decades enforced a strict dress code on women that required them to wear abayas in public, as well as a headscarf if they were Muslim.

But in March the young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declared that women only needed to dress modestly and not necessarily wear abayas.

"The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of Sharia [Islamic law]: that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men," he told CBS TV.

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

The Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media wrote on Twitter on Tuesday evening that it had opened an investigation into the video of an unnamed TV presenter because it appeared to show her appearing in "clothing which was indecent, in violation of regulations and instructions".

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Media captionSaudi women hit the road

Ms al-Rifaie rejected the allegation.

"I was wearing decent clothes, and God will reveal the truth of what has been said to me," she was quoted by the Saudi news site Ajel as saying.

Ajel also reported that Ms Rifaie had returned to the United Arab Emirates.