That Turkish Airlines has now become a locus of the country’s culture wars is perhaps not surprising, given that the airline is considered something of a national treasure by many Turks. This is particularly true of secularists, who see it as presenting the face of Turkey to the world. They recall that it was founded under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey who instituted secularism with an iron hand.

With Turkey’s rise as an economic and political power over the past decade, tourism has soared. Feeding some of the backlash against the new uniforms is the fear that tourists, many of whom form their first impressions of Turkey on a Turkish Airlines flight, will get the wrong impression.