Turkish Airlines has banned air hostesses from wearing brightly-coloured lipsticks such as red or pink, a move which has sparked fierce debate as the government is accused of trying to Islamise the country, local media reported Wednesday.
Numerous women posted pictures of themselves wearing bright red lipstick on social media websites to protest at the measure, part of a new aesthetics code for stewardesses working for Turkey’s main airline.
The lipstick ban is the latest in a string of conservative measures adopted by the airline, which have sparked the ire of fiercely secular Turks.
“This measure is an act of perversion. How else could you describe it?” said Gursel Tekin, vice-president of the main opposition party CHP.
Turkish Airlines defended the ban, saying in a statement Tuesday that “simple make-up, immaculate and in pastel colours, is preferred for staff working in the service sector.”
In recent months the booming airline — 49 percent state-owned — has also stopped serving alcohol on internal flights.
In February, images of proposed new uniforms for flight attendants bringing in ankle-length dresses and Ottoman-style fez caps were criticised as too conservative. The skirts of Turkish Airlines stewardesses once came in far above the knee.
However the more conservative new uniforms have not been adopted.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyin Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party, in power for over a decade, is often accused of creeping efforts to coerce the country to be more conservative and pious.
Turkey is a fiercely secular state, despite being a majority Muslim country. Under Erdogan’s rule headscarves — banned in public institutions — have become more visible in public places and alcohol bans are more widespread.