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US Delegation Departs Saudi Arabia Early Amid Kippah Dispute

Credits: Reddit

The U.S. delegation on religious freedom cut short its visit to Saudi Arabia after a member was asked to remove his Jewish head covering, or kippah. The incident occurred during a visit to Diriyah, a historic town near Riyadh, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The delegation, led by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), included Orthodox Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who refused requests to remove his kippah. The USCIRF stated that no one should be denied access to a heritage site based on their religious beliefs.

US Delegation Amid Kippah (Credits: US Delegation Amid Kippah)

The USCIRF delegation, including Vice Chair Reverend Frederick Davie, was invited to tour the site as part of their official visit. However, officials requested that Rabbi Cooper remove his kippah despite prior approval from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the visit.

Rabbi Cooper expressed disappointment over the incident, noting that it occurred at a time of increased anti-Semitism globally. The USCIRF described the incident as regrettable, especially considering its role in promoting religious freedom.

Kippah (Credits: RFI)

Vice Chair Davie described the incident as “stunning and painful,” noting that it contradicted Saudi Arabia’s official narrative of change and progress in promoting religious freedom.

The Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the incident. The incident comes amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Israel over the war in Gaza, as well as U.S. efforts to promote normalization of ties between the two countries.

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