Suffra-jets: Protests as Indonesian flight-attendants 'ordered' to don hijab
The authorities of semi-autonomous Aceh, the only province in the Muslim-majority coutry to implement Islamic law, sent a letter to Indonesian air carriers that stipulated that, "All female stewardesses must wear a 'jilbab' [headscarf] Muslim fashion in accordance with the rules of sharia," according to Reuters.
Women who do not comply with the new regulations would face punishment from religious police, according to Aceh authorities, however no details were given on what the punishment may be.
Non-Muslim flights attendants would not be required to cover their head, but Muslim staff would need wear headscarves on flights in and out of Aceh, said Mawardi Ali, chief of the Aceh Besar region where the airport is located.
All Muslim women in Aceh are required to wear the hijab, while non-Muslims must dress modestly.
Indonesian air carriers Garuda Indonesia and Citilink, supported the new regulation, according to airline spokesman Ikhsan Rosan.
However Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia responded by announcing it would send men-only cabin crews in and out of Aceh, without clarifying if this was a protest to the policy or not.
The president of the Malaysian flight attendants' union Ismail Nasarudin contended that carriers must comply with the new regulation, adding that it is not the fist of its kind, with a similar such ruling existing for flights in and out of Jeddah.
"[...] the airline has to follow the guideline. They can't land or leave the plane if they refuse to comply with local laws." said Mr Nasaruddin.
Critics of the new regulation have slammed the policy of forcing women to wear the hijab, some even calling for the airlines to boycott the region.
Aceh province's strict policing of Islamic dress has sparked outrage recently, after it was reported that Indonesian police forcibly cut the hair of a group of transgender women, forced them to wear male clothes and told them to speak in a masculine voice as part of a crackdown on the country’s LGBT community.