Malaysia’s first Islamic airline takes off

Malaysia’s first Islamic airline, offering flights that adhere to Islamic rules including prayers, no-alcohol, no-pork meals, and a strict dress code for Muslim female flight attendants took to the skies over the weekend.

The idea for Rayani Air was mooted last year by conservative Muslims who believed that two major air disasters involving the national Malaysia Airlines were caused by Allah’s wrath.

Their solution: airlines must adopt strict Islamic customs to avoid divine retribution.

A Rayani Air jet sits at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Dec. 22, 2015. The airline has adopted Sharia law in an effort to appeal to Malaysians. The Associated Press

“We are answering the call from Malaysians, who wanted a Sharia compliant airline. We’re not talking about being holy, being a holy airline or flying into holy destinations,” Rayani Air Managing Director Jaafar Jamhari said. “We just want to provide the alternative for travellers who are open to the idea of shariayariah compliant and we’re very very open to all races and all religions.”

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The reaction to the disasters, and the creation of the airline that operated its inaugural flight on Sunday, is an example of rising conservative Islamic values in Malaysia, where Muslims account for some 60 percent of the country’s 30 million people.

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