A number of female Air France cabin crew staff are resisting an airline ruling that they should wear a headscarf when outside the plane in Tehran, according to a union representative.
Multiple flight crew unions are fighting back against the ruling, with at least one reaching out to a government minister in the hope that they would intervene.
The headscarf requirement and clothing limitations are “true threats to their dignity”, the Union des Navigants de l’Aviation Civile (UNAC) wrote in a letter to Laurence Rossignol, France’s minister for women’s rights and families, on Friday.
Another union, Syndicat National du Personnel Navigant Commercial (SNPNC), also denounced the provisions in a statement, calling them “an attack on freedom of conscience and individual freedoms, and invasion of privacy”.
Union representatives have asked Air France to make working on flights to Tehran voluntary for female crew members who do not want to wear headscarves, without repercussions related to pay or schedules.
Women are required to cover their hair in Iran, which of course is not the case in secular France, although conversely face-covering veils are banned in the latter.
Air France is set to resume service to Tehran on April 17 after an eight-year break. The service was initially cut as part of international sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme. Following the 2015 nuclear deal struck between Iran, the US, France and several other countries, Air France announced it would once again fly to the tourist-hungry country.
Specifically, Air France’s modesty rules require women to wear trousers during the flight from Paris to Tehran and a loose-fitting jacket and headscarf when they exit the plane. Those who don’t comply could be penalised, said SNPNC spokesperson Christophe Pillet to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“It is not our role to pass judgment on the wearing of headscarves or veils in Iran,” Flore Ariighi, head of the UNAC told UK newspaper The Telegraph. “What we are denouncing is that it is being made compulsory. Stewardesses must be given the right to refuse these flights.”
Air France told AFP that the headscarf rule was not new. It was in place before service to Tehran was cut in 2008.
“Iranian law requires that a veil covering the hair be worn in public places by all women on its territory,” the airline said. “This obligation, which does not apply during the flight, is respected by all international airlines that fly to Iran.”
According to the union letter to the government minister, Air France also asked its female flight attendants to refrain from smoking in public. Male attendants were not given the same order.
Air France has not responded to Mashable’s request for comment.
This article was first published by Mashable