Air France Flight Attendants Reject Iran Headscarf Edict

Women flight personnel say they will boycott the Paris-Tehran route if they're forced to cover their hair in deference to Islamic Republic law.

Iranian women stand in line at a polling station during the parliamentary and Experts Assembly elections in Qom, Iran, Feb. 26, 2016.
Iranian women stand in line at a polling station during the parliamentary and Experts Assembly elections in Qom, Iran, Feb. 26, 2016. Credit: AP

When Air France resumes flights to Tehran this month, women flight attendants say they won't be on board, in protest of orders to don headscarves during their stay in the Iranian capital.

Thrice weekly flights from Paris to Tehran on hold for the past eight years are set to resume on April 17 as part of the nuclear deal world powers signed with Iran last year.

The Telegraph reports that the flight attendants have been ordered to cover their hair when they disembark, in deference to the laws of the Islamic republic where women have been forced to cover their hair since the 1979 revolution.

Flore Arrighi, head of the UNAC flight crews’ union, told the paper: “It is not our role to pass judgement on the wearing of headscarves or veils in Iran. What we are denouncing is that it is being made compulsory. Stewardesses must be given the right to refuse these flights.”

The financially ailing French airline sees the resumption of Tehran flights as an “excellent” business development.

“Tolerance and respect for the customs of the countries we serve are part of the values of our company,” a spokesman said.

In Saudi Arabia, women flight attendants must wear the “abaya”, a long robe that covers the body, but unlike Saudi women they are not compelled to wear face veils.

In France, public signs of religion have been frowned upon since a 1905 law separating church and state.

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