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article imageRihanna mosque photo shoot sparks outrage

By Yukio Strachan     Oct 22, 2013 in Entertainment
Abu Dhabi - Before she even had a chance to enter the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, pop star Rihanna was asked to leave the site after she posed for photographs considered to violate the “sanctity of the mosque.”
The Bajan star visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque before her Abu Dhabi concert on Saturday and posed for the photographs which some have deemed “disrespectful” at one of the world's largest Muslim places of worship.
The mosque, which has the world's largest carpet from Iran; the world's largest chandelier from Germany made from one million Swarovski crystals; 28 different types of marble and 24-carat gold throughout, is also a major tourist site in the United Arab Emirates' capital.
According to a 2008 Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque press release, "as a mark of respect to a place of prayer and contemplation, visitors must wear modest, conservative loose fitting clothing with women covering their heads. Long sleeves are necessary and shorts or short skirts will not be acceptable. As footwear has to be removed before entering the mosque, slip-off shoes are recommended."
Photos posted on her Instagram account show the 25-year-old singer posing in the courtyard dressed from head-to-toe in an all-black jumpsuit that covered her arms, and legs according to the mosque's guidelines.
She also wore a headscarf in all of the photographs.
'Violates the moral codes of access'
But the mosque, named in honor of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, published a statement Monday in The National, an Abu Dhabi newspaper, saying Rihanna was in an area normally off limits for visitors:
“The Centre strives to ensure that visitors enter the mosque in a decent fashion, and refrain from behaving in any way that is inconsistent with the sanctity of this religious place. In the event of behaviour that violates the moral codes of access to the mosque, or other visit regulations – such as taking inappropriate pictures, posing in ways that are improper in the context of sacred place, talking loudly, or eating – the violators are directed in a polite manner that reflects the civilisational and tolerant attributes of Islam. Usually, the visitors are appreciative of that.
“Here, the Centre refers to a recent incident, involving a singer who came for a private visit to the mosque, at a gate that is not reserved for visitors, without prior coordination with the Centre’s management and without identifying herself.
“She was directed by visitor services to proceed to the visitors’ main gate and take the guided tour, according to procedure. She left without entering the mosque, after being asked to do so, due to the fact that she had taken some pictures that do not conform with the conditions and regulations put in place by the Centre’s management to regulate visits in a way that takes the status and sanctity of the mosque into consideration.”
“While the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre always welcomes visitors and tourists from all around the world, it also calls on everyone to adhere to the moral codes of access to the mosque and to its visit regulations, which the Centre always makes sure are clear to all its visitors throughout the day.”
Rihanna hasn't responded publicly to the statement.
As CBS notes, this is the third social media controversy that has surrounded Rihanna in recent weeks. The incident comes less than a week after a bar owner in Thailand was arrested on obscenity charges due to a series of September tweets from Rihanna describing a sex show she saw at the venue. And two weeks earlier, an Instagram photo of Rihanna with a protected primate led to the arrest of two other men.
Rihanna, who has been on her "Diamonds" world tour, arrived in the country after playing shows in South Africa.
She will next head to Tel Aviv, Israel to perform at Yehoshua Gardens Park on Tuesday.
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