Authorities in Indonesia’s Aceh province have ordered female Muslim flight attendants to wear headscarves when flying into the ultra-conservative Islamic region, officials confirmed, on Wednesday.
Aceh is the only province in the predominantly Muslim country to implement Islamic law. Muslims in the rest of Indonesia generally practice a moderate form of Islam and women are free to choose whether or not to cover their heads.
The local government, which has special autonomy granted as part of a 2001 peace deal with the central government in Jakarta, circulated a letter addressed to Indonesian flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and several budget carriers including Malaysia’s AirAsia and Firefly.
“All female stewardesses must wear a ‘jilbab’ (headscarf) Muslim fashion in accordance with the rules of sharia,” the letter stated.
The international airport in provincial capital Banda Aceh services dozens of domestic flights every week, and international routes to Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
Mawardi Ali, chief of Aceh Besar regency where the airport is located, said that non-Muslim stewardesses were not required to wear headscarves, but that Muslim staff would be asked to wear it while en route to and in Aceh.
A spokesman for Garuda Indonesia, Ikhsan Rosan said the airline and its budget arm Citilink “support the suggestions” and would comply.