APSN Banner

Bali senator sparks Islamophobic controversy over comments on airport staff attire

Jakarta Globe - January 2, 2024

Whisnu Bagus Prasetyo, Denpasar – Shri I Gusti Ngurah Arya Wedakarna, a member of the Regional Representative Council (DPD) from Bali, has become embroiled in controversy following a viral video of his rebuke of airport officials wearing hijabs.

In the video, Arya expresses dissatisfaction with the attire of certain staff members of I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport, particularly those wearing hijabs, leading to accusations of discrimination and sparking public outcry.

In the footage, Arya is seen criticizing the Head of the Customs and Excise Regional Office for Bali and Nusa Tenggara, the Head of Customs and Excise at I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport, and airport management. He specifically mentions his preference for Balinese staff without hijabs to be positioned at the forefront of customer service, rather than those wearing headscarves.

"I don't want those in the front line, I want Balinese girls like you, with their hair visibly open. Don't provide those coverings, this is not the Middle East. It's comfortable here in Bali, wear flowers or something," Arya said in the video.

Arya's remarks have been widely condemned on social media, with many considering them disrespectful and discriminatory towards Muslim women who choose to wear hijabs. Internet users urge him to focus on issues directly related to airport operations rather than criticizing personal choices regarding attire.

"If there's an issue at the airport, just advise the staff, there's no need to involve the hijab. Whoever knows their account, please tag them; let's make peace," wrote @vsecond_choice on their personal Instagram.

In response to the backlash, Arya clarified the context of the incident on his personal Instagram account. He explained that during a recess, he encountered what he perceived as unfriendly and sarcastic behavior from two customs officers at the airport. Arya requested the immediate transfer of these two employees out of Bali or the relocation of the Head of Customs and Excise.

"Regarding the viral video circulating in the community, it has been edited by several media outlets or by irresponsible individuals," he said.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/bali-senator-sparks-islamophobic-controversy-over-comments-on-airport-staff-attir