Saudi Arabia’s Reaction to the Kippah Removal Incident Involving Cooper

The Saudi Embassy in the US said the incident involving a rabbi being asked to remove his kippah was due to a misunderstanding.

While visiting Diriyah, US Religious Freedom Commission co-chair Rabbi Abraham Cooper was requested by Saudi officials to take off his kippah in public.

After the delegation departed from Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Embassy in the US stated on the social media platform X that they considered the incident unfortunate and a result of misunderstanding. They mentioned that HRH Ambassador Reema Bandar Al-Saud spoke with Cooper to resolve the issue and respected his decision not to continue the tour.

Monitoring religious freedom

Cooper visited Saudi Arabia as co-chair of the US government delegation responsible for monitoring global religious freedom. The delegation arrived on March 3rd and was invited to Diriyah, the original residence of the Saudi royal family.

Following the incident, Cooper emphasized that no one should be prevented from accessing heritage sites simply for being Jewish. He also expressed concerns about the increasing antisemitism globally, leading to the decision to halt the tour.

A fellow member of the US delegation, Reverend Frederick A. Davie, described the incident as “stunning and painful” and raised concerns about the state of religious freedom in the country.