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The Problem of Religious DiversityEuropean Challenges, Asian Approaches$
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Anna Triandafyllidou and Tariq Modood

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474419086

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474419086.001.0001

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Living with Religious Diversity: The Limits of the Secular Paradigm

Living with Religious Diversity: The Limits of the Secular Paradigm

(p.75) 4 Living with Religious Diversity: The Limits of the Secular Paradigm
The Problem of Religious Diversity

Gurpreet Mahajan

Edinburgh University Press

In April 2016, Air France sent an email to the women crewmembers instructing them to ‘wear trousers during flights to Iran and to don a “loose-fitting jacket and headscarf” before leaving the plane in Tehran’ (Willsher 2016). Many people were outraged by this announcement. While some people saw this as a sign of France yielding, if not being subservient, to the demands of the Muslim culture, others complained that women were being compelled to wear ‘ostentatious religious signs’ – something that France prohibits explicitly in its own territory. Eventually the matter was settled as the airline gave the staff a choice: they could opt out of flying to Tehran. Air France notified that ‘If, for personal reasons, they [crewmembers] don’t want to wear the headscarf when they leave the plane they would be reassigned to another destination’ (Hickford 2016). This decision took care of the immediate concerns of the women employees but the question that remains is: why did the national carrier issue such instructions? When France prohibits the donning of a full burqa or a veil that completely covers the face in the public domain, can it justifiably ask crewmembers flying into Tehran to wear a headscarf?

Keywords:   Religious Diversity, Limitations, Secular paradigm

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