An anchorwoman in Saudi Arabia has caused controversy after appearing in a live broadcast without her veil, allegedly the first time a female newscaster in the country has done so.
The anchorwoman was broadcasting from the London studio of Al Ekhbariya, a state-owned channel which launched in 2004 and featured Saudi Arabia’s first female news presenter, according to the Daily Mail.
Many criticized the anchorwoman’s appearance as a public dishonor to tradition, but others saw it as a step forward for personal freedom and women’s rights.
However, after the clip was shared on Arabic language news sites and viewed by thousands, the channel released a statement promising that the incident will not happen again.
“She was not in a studio inside Saudi Arabia and we do not tolerate any transgression of our values and the country’s systems,” spokesman Saleh Al Mughailif said in a statement, according to Gulf News. “She was a correspondent reading the news from a studio in Britain.”
Unveiled women have appeared on Saudi television before, but not as news presenters on government-run programs.
A blogger named Hafez said that the unveiled anchorwoman was “a test to gauge people’s reactions to the sight of women without head covers on Saudi national television news.”
Despite society being divided over the possibility of granting women more rights, the clip is a huge move in the lengthy battle for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
In October, the country saw a landmark demonstration over its law preventing any woman from driving a car, with women getting behind the wheel in full-face veils to protest in Riyadh, the Daily Mail notes.
Also a landmark decision for women’s status, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz appointed 30 women to his advisory body, the Shura Council.