DUBAI - Pop star Rihanna was asked to leave Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque complex for posing for "inappropriate" pictures outside one of the world's largest Muslim places of worship.
Authorities said they had taken action before the Barbadian diva entered the mosque itself, which is not off-limits to non-Muslims and has become a major tourist attraction in the United Arab Emirates capital.
The 25-year-old, who performed live in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, posted the pictures on online photo-sharing site Instagram.
She posed in a black jumpsuit in the courtyard of the mosque, wearing crimson lipstick and nail polish.
She wore a headscarf in all of the photographs but the poses could be regarded as suggestive.
In one of the pictures, she is seen lying down on her back in the courtyard of the mosque, while in another she sits on the ground with her arms crossed on her chest.
In a statement posted on its website, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre said: "The singer entered on a private visit without introducing herself and without prior coordination with the adminstration.
"She was asked to leave before entering the mosque after she posed in ways that do not match the sacred status" of the complex, the statement said.
The centre said it worked to ensure that no visitor "fails to meet the standards of decency required to enter the mosque, such as by posing for inappropriate photographs or by sitting in disrespectful positions."
The pictures sparked controversy among fans on Rihanna's Instagram account.
"She thinks she's sunbathing on a beach in Miami!" said one Arabic-language comment.
"It's the fault of those who allowed her into the mosque," said another.
But others praised her.
"Thanks for your respect to our religion... you take your time to wear the traditional dress... And the pictures are beautiful not insulting," read one comment.
"I'm Muslim... and do not find it disrespectful at all. Love you Rihanna," read another.