Indonesia province orders head coverings for Muslim flight attendants

Aceh is the only province in the predominantly Muslim country to implement sharia

epa06487133 An airline stewardess wearing a hijab waves as she crosses the tarmac at Sultan Iskandar Muda Airport, Aceh, Indonesia, 31 January 2018. The government of Aceh issued new regulations for airline stewardesses, requiring them to wear a hijab as part of their uniform, in accordance with sharia law.  EPA/HOTLI SIMANJUNTAK

Authorities in the Indonesian province of Aceh have ordered Muslim flight attendants to wear head coverings when flying into the region, officials confirmed on Wednesday.

Aceh is the only province in the predominantly Muslim country to implement sharia.

The regional government, allowed greater autonomy under a 2001 peace deal with Jakarta, sent a letter to national carrier Garuda Indonesia and budget carriers, such as Malaysia’s AirAsia and Firefly.

"All female stewardesses must wear a 'jilbab' (a type of head covering) Muslim fashion in accordance with the rules of sharia," the authorities said in the letter.

The international airport in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, services dozens of domestic flights every week, and international routes to neighbouring Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

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Non-Muslim flights attendants will not be required to wear head coverings, but Muslim staff will be asked to wear them on flights in and out of Aceh, said Mawardi Ali, chief of the Aceh Besar region where the airport is located.

Garuda Indonesia and its budget arm, Citilink, "support the suggestions" and will comply, said airline spokesman Ikhsan Rosan.

Firefly in Malaysia declined to comment, citing "the sensitivity of the matter".

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