AirAsia airlines announced that it will only use all male staff for flights to Aceh province in Indonesia, in which authorities demanded that stewardesses wear hijabs.
Several other airlines followed suit with AirAisa, choosing to use only male staff for flights heading to the conservative Muslim province, according to the Associated Press. Baskoro Adiwiyono, AirAsia Indonesia’s corporate secretary, announced the airline’s decision Friday in response to a letter from an Aceh official concerning the demand for hijabs
“For the time being, all AirAsia flights from and to Aceh will be operated by male cabin crew,” Adiwiyono announced, according to the AP.
Garuda, a national airline in Indonesia, and its budget airline Citilink professed their support for AirAsia’s decision and said that they would do the same.
“Garuda respects and upholds local wisdom,” airline spokesman Ikhsan Rosan said, according to the AP.
The chief of Aceh Besar district sent the demand letter to airlines, stating that women entering the province must wear hijabs as prescribed by Islamic teaching, and that airlines must operate in accordance with Sharia law as enforced by the region’s leadership. Aceh province is the only area in Indonesia where Sharia law is actively enforced by local officials and adherence to conservative Islam is mandated.
Aceh’s implementation of Sharia law began in 2001, and officials passed a law in 2006 that tasked Aceh officials with enforcing Sharia. Since then, Sharia police have roamed Aceh, actively searching for anyone engaging in what Sharia law deems immoral, such as idolatry, homosexuality, drinking, and immodest clothing. Authorities publicly whip those they find guilty of violating Sharia law.
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