Swiss minister sparks veil outcry

Micheline Calmy-ReySwiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has been widely criticised for donning a white headscarf to meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Well-known for her stand on women’s rights, she has provoked headlines such as “Just like a submissive woman”.

Socialist MP Maria Roth-Bernasconi said it was irritating that she had angered feminists in Iran. Ms Calmy-Rey said she was observing protocol. “When you are a guest you respect local customs,” she said.

Social Democrat MP Liliane Maury Pasquier accepted that customs had to be observed. But she was quoted by one newspaper complaining that the minister should have shown solidarity with “the women who fight against wearing the headscarf”.

Swiss daily Le Matin said on Wednesday it was shocked that Switzerland’s “icon of a liberated woman” had been transformed into an image of one who was oppressed.

BBC News, 20 March 2008