Saturday, February 21, 2009

Racial Issues: Oklahoma allows Muslim to take driver's photo with hijab

The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) today thanked that state's Department of Public Safety (DPS) for allowing a Muslim driver to take her driver's license photograph while wearing a religiously-mandated head scarf, or hijab.

CAIR-OK said the Muslim driver attempted to renew her driver's license in September of last year, but was initially told she was required to pull her hijab back past her hairline. Following intervention by CAIR-OK, the director of the DPS Driver License Examining Division offered to take the photograph with hijab and to institute diversity training for staff.

The Muslim driver received an apology and DPS clarified its policy on religious accommodations. That policy states that head covering is permitted if it does not "obstruct a full front view of the face from hairline to chin."

"We appreciate the support of the DPS in resolving this matter and upholding the constitutional right to freedom of religious practice," said CAIR-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi. "CAIR will continue to work with DPS on training to prevent similar situations."

Hashmi said that according to a 2004 CAIR review, most states, with the exception of Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire, have addressed religious accommodation concerns. Five states -- Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, Missouri, and Maine -- recognize some religious practices, while the other 42 states have adopted more inclusive approaches to religious accommodation policies.
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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