French stewardesses rebel over head scarf rule on flights to Iran
Stewardesses for Air France are livid over the airlines order that all female flight attendants wear head scarves when deplaning in Tehran. The airline will resume flights to Iran later this month.
Air France stewardesses, furious at being ordered to wear headscarves in Tehran, say they will refuse to fly to the Iranian capital when the airline resumes the service later this month.
Female members of flight crews have been ordered to cover their hair once they disembark in Tehran and unions are demanding that the flights be made voluntary for women.
The resumption of a thrice-weekly service between Paris and Tehran, planned for April 17 after an eight-year break, follows a thaw in relations since Iran agreed to dismantle large sections of its nuclear programme.
Iranian women have been forced by law to cover their hair or face stiff fines since the 1979 Islamic revolution. In staunchly secularFrance, however, public signs of religion have been frowned upon since a 1905 law separating church and state.
French women see Islamic headscarves and veils as an affront to their dignity. Headscarves are banned in French state schools and offices, and it is illegal to wear the full-face Muslim veil in public.
Flore Arrighi, head of the UNAC flight crews’ union, said: “It is not our role to pass judgement on the wearing of headscarves or veils inIran. What we are denouncing is that it is being made compulsory. Stewardesses must be given the right to refuse these flights.”
She added that female staff were entitled to exercise “individual freedoms”.
The financially ailing French airline, which sees the resumption of Tehran flights as an “excellent” business development, pointed out that other airline staff were obliged to comply with Iranian rules. “Tolerance and respect for the customs of the countries we serve are part of the values of our company,” a spokesman said.
"Tolerance and respect" is a two way street. When the customs of a country directly and severely conflict with our most basic freedoms, the choice must be voluntary.
This is actually a no brainer. Making flights to the Islamic paradise of Iran compulsory for these female employees should not only be in conflict with the values of Air France, but also the values of all free people. With only 3 flights a week planned from Paris to Tehran, the airline should have adequate volunteer staff to handle the work. No woman who feels head scarfs are an affront to their dignity should be forced to debase themselves in this manner.