Female flight attendants on Air France are fighting an internal management edict mandating a Shari’a-compliant (Islamic) dress code on routes to and from Iran.
The Paris-Tehran route which was suspended eight years ago when international sanctions were imposed against Iran, is to resume April 17 with flights three times a day. The renewed flights were authorized in light of the nuclear deal signed last July between Iran and the six world powers, which included lifting sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
All female crew members have been informed they must cover their hair with veils or head scarves, wear slacks and don loose-fitting jackets before leaving the plane in Tehran.
The airline staff and union groups have strongly condemned the new dress code and cabin crews are saying they will strike when the route resumes. They called the requirement an “ostentatious religious sign” that goes against French law and an attack on individual freedom.
Union leader Françoise Redolfi was quoted by French radio station RFI as saying, “We have to let the women choose what they want to wear. Those who don’t wish to, must be able to say they don’t want to work on those flights.”
Redolfi added that female flight attendants told her that it is “out of the question” to wear head scarves because “it’s not professional” and they view it as an “insult to their dignity.”
But such a requirement is apparently not as new for the airline as union members might make it out to be: Air France said the rules already apply to cabin crew during stopovers in Saudi Arabia, where female staff are required to wear an abaya to cover their body.
Iranian women have been forced to wear a hair covering since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
But in France, there has been a severe backlash against veils and even head scarves since the terror attacks that were carried out in Paris by radical Islamist terrorists. The same full-face veils that might obscure a woman’s identification in Tehran are now banned in public places; head scarves covering the hair are also banned in schools and state offices.
In its response, Air France commented, “Iranian law requires the wearing of a veil covering the hair in public places for all women present on its territory. This obligation is not required during the flight and is respected by all international airlines serving the Iranian Republic.”Hana Levi Julian