French restaurant in Saudi Arabia bans hijab, sparking outrage – Middle East Monitor

A French restaurant in the coastal city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has banned women wearing the hijab or Islamic veil from entering, sparking outrage from customers and citizens of the Kingdom.

Bagatelle Jeddah, a subsidiary of the popular French restaurant chain, reportedly banned entry last week and earlier this week for women wearing the hijab and abaya, the loose dress worn by women in the Kingdom. Men who wear the traditional thobe – or long robe – were also reportedly banned from the restaurant.

Following small media news and personal customer experiences, the restaurant has received thousands of negative reviews and a star on Google and Facebook from Saudis. A comment on his Facebook page from a social media user named Ameera Al Qahtani, for example, said he “deserves no stars. Because he refuses to allow women [wearing] the hijab, and refuses the Saudi dress for men. They must be expelled from Jeddah. They don’t respect our religion, and that makes me very angry.”

READ: Bahrain: Indian restaurant closed over ban on women wearing hijab

Even before its seemingly recent adoption of this hijab cure, the restaurant had been heavily criticized by many for its “tasteless” and bland food. Its policies against Islamic and Saudi customs appeared to be the final nail in its coffin, however, as a Google search shows it has closed for good.

The apparent closure of Bagatelle Jeddah appears to be largely the result of Saudi citizens’ pressure campaign against it, but may also be due to an order from Saudi authorities. Although there was no immediate and public response to the authorities’ outrage, some regional media reported that the Jeddah prosecutor had taken the decision to close the restaurant.

The incident comes amid increased efforts by the Kingdom in recent years to attract foreign tourists, especially from the West, to sites inside the country. One such attraction is Jeddah’s coastline, of which this controversial restaurant – overlooking the Red Sea – was an important part and which likely influenced its policies.

This is the most recent example of concerns over societal tensions resulting from the clash between the conservative values ​​of Saudi society and the new era of liberalization encouraged by the Saudi government to meet the needs of tourists.

READ: Saudi Arabia denies NEOM will be ‘a country within a country’

Comments are closed.