Explainer Middle East

Fact check: Saudi TV didn’t censor Angela Merkel’s hair

Photos of Saudi TV censoring Angela Merkel's hair are taken from a satirical Facebook page.

Images circulating on Twitter on Wednesday, May 3 showed German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s reception during her trip to Saudi Arabia over the weekend.

The story

Saudi state TV, the tweets claim, blurred Merkel’s hair so as not to offend its conservative viewers.

Sarah Abdallah, an “independent Lebanese geopolitical commentator” with over 72,000 followers tweeted what she said was a screengrab of the video.

“Not a joke: The UN’s newest member of the Women Rights Commission censored the German chancellor’s hair when she appeared today on Saudi TV.”


About an hour later, Pamela Moore, who has nearly 54,000 followers, tweeted the same.

“The UN’s newest member of the WOMEN RIGHTS Commission censored the Angela Merkel’s hair when she appeared today on Saudi TV.”


As of 11:15 BST (10:15 GMT) on May 4, Abdallah’s tweet has been retweeted 13,903 times.

The story was, of course, repeated by numerous accounts with smaller followings.

One of them even has a “truth-o-meter” as their image header.

The irony is so good. Image: @Halalcoholism/Twitter

It’s worth noting that many other Twitter users pushed back against the claims.

The facts

Khase News, a predominately Arabic-language Facebook page, posted the image of Merkel as a joke.

It even said so – in English.

Satirical image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Saudi Arabia. Image: Khase News/Facebook

It’s true that Merkel declined to cover her hair during the meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and other Saudi leaders.

The move got plenty of media attention, as did UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to do the same when she visited Riyadh last month. The media reports noted that former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama also wore their hair uncovered in Saudi Arabia.

But Merkel appeared uncensored on Saudi Arabia’s state-run Al Ekhbariya channel when she met the king on Sunday. The two even shook hands.

Screenshot of Angela Merkel on Saudi Arabia’s Al Ekhbariya TV channel on April 30, 2017.

You can watch the video for yourself on Al Ekhbariya’s YouTube channel.


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