Air France staff in mutiny over headscarves order

Female flight attendants told they must cover their heads when landing in Tehran

(Image credit: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Female Air France flight attendants have said they will refuse to fly to Iran after being ordered to wear headscarves when they leave the plane in Tehran.

Women in Iran have been required to cover their heads since the 1979 revolution. However, in France, religious headscarves are banned in state schools and offices and it is illegal to wear the full-face veil in public.

Union leaders have objected to what they see as a compulsory dress code that undermines "individual freedoms", but Air France argues that French law allows "the restriction of individual liberties" if it is "justified by the nature of the task to be accomplished", reports the Daily Telegraph.

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Francoise Redolfi, of the UNSA union, told RFI Radio the decision was "not professional" and an "insult" to the staff's dignity.

"They are forcing us to wear an ostentatious religious symbol. We have to let the girls choose what they want to wear. Those that don't want to must be able to say they don't want to work on those flights," she said.

Unions want the Tehran flights, which will resume later this month, to be made voluntary "without penalties for female staff, deductions from wages or consequences for their careers", says The Independent.

In response, the airline said all air crew were "obliged like other foreign visitors to respect the laws of the countries to which they travelled". It added that the rule was not a new one, since it had applied before flights to Tehran were stopped and that similar regulations also applied on flights to Saudi Arabia.

The unions have written to France's minister for women's rights and families, Laurence Rossignol, who late last month was embroiled in another religious clothing row over retailers selling the likes of the burkini. Muslim women who chose to wear headscarves were like "negroes who supported slavery", she said.

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