External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Iran on Sunday created a buzz in social media, more for what she wore than what she did.
In most of the pictures in Tehran, Swaraj was seen in a pink saree and a shawl of the same colour. The shawl fully covered her head — like a “hijab” — the women in the conservative societies in Iran and other Islamic nations wear.
She was seen in the same attire during her meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as well as while appearing before the photo-journalists with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
“This is embarrassing @SushmaSwaraj. You could’ve worn a Sari and pulled the Pallu over yr head,” Tarek Fatah, Canadian secularist and liberal author, posted on Twitter.
“Yes, MEA is supposed to represent India and Indian culture. Will HE Iranian President wear Indian dress in India?” posted another twitterati, Kailash Wagh. Many women in Iran use headscarf in accordance with Islamic traditions.
Julie Bishop, foreign minister of Australia, also put on a headscarf during her recent visit to Iran. Sources said that although it was not a mandatory protocol requirement for the External Affairs Minister to cover her head during her visit to Iran, she had done so voluntarily as a mark of respect to the culture and traditions of the host country.