Friday, March 6, 2009

Headscarves and Driver's Licences, and a Note from Me

"Dispute over hijabs on driver's licenses resolved"
March 6, 2009
A controversy over head scarves on Minnesota driver's license photos may have come to and end at the State Capitol, now that an exception has been carved out for religious head coverings.

Representative Steve Gottwalt, a Saint Cloud Republican, created a stir in Muslim communities with a bill that would mandate driver's license photos display the "full head and face" of the driver.

It was an effort, endorsed by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, to rid such pictures of head gear that would obscure a person's identifying features. The group contends it's difficult to verify the true identity of people they encounter if their heads are partially hidden on those official photos.

The legislation immediately raised the spectre that the head scarves worn by Muslim women, known as hijabs, wouldn't be allowed on driver's license photos. They consider removing those scarves in public contrary to their faith, and a violation of their freedom of religion.

"The bill as written smacked of discrimination," area Muslim commentator Khalid Elmasry told KARE, "It allowed an exception for people who have medical reasons to cover their heads but not for those with religious reasons."

As he put it, "Is someone who covers their hair for religious reasons somehow a greater security risk than someone who covers it for medical reasons? I don't think so."

More of this story at "kare11.com" Twin Cities, MN (linked title above), and at CAIR news.

For more on the similar head covering bill in Oklahoma, see Tulsa World's article: "Anti-scarf bill draws concern" and the concern to Sikh men.

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Don't leave Canada out of this. A similar problem with head coverings in license photos occured in BC: "Muslim man told to remove religious head covering; ICBC cites misunderstanding". Story by Sheila Reynolds - Surrey North Delta Leader

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I, LisaM of ThoseHeadcoverings, am not Muslim nor Sikh, and I don't intend to preach that everyone is acceptable in God's eyes. Nor am I a "politically-correct" advocate. I myself believe in many things that are not mainstream American but are conservatively Christian, following the words of the Bible, the words of Christ; and I sympathize with these women and men who are ostracized, criticized and told what their attitudes and agendas "are", despite the fact that many of them are just trying to be what they believe God has asked them to be. People, and even other followers of Christ, have misjudged me and others like me too. I desire that all who are called to be different from the world be encouraged to continue on their walk of faith, continually learning and growing in their faith, which often means submitting to God and to others more and more, and less to their own likes, comforts, reasoning and tradition.

For the record, this story concerning headcovering in id photos does not closely concern Christian women, for even those who cover "24-7" can uncover their hair and not be "immodestly attired" as orthodox Muslim and Jewish women believe they would be - the Christian headcovering, though modest, is for praying and prophesying. But this is one of those areas of life where head coverings are misunderstood, and we can get "lumped into" the idea of head coverings as a mere "religious requirement" and a man-made oppression or political law.

Those who do not discern things spiritually see physical symbols like head coverings as oppressive, demeaning, or man-made and thus not spiritual. Instead of accepting the difference in opinion and behaviour, they often see this as a threat: is it because they think that since I believe that this physical symbol is good, then I am going to force them to do it too, even though they do not understand it? I can understand that fear, because it has been done before, in every religion. If the people of a nation so fear another religion, is it because they have no faith in their own religion? Perhaps that is the "secret" of true faith, which is spiritual. Even those who outwardly appear spiritual because they follow the same religious requirements, may not truly have faith in a Spirit, but in a list of religious actions. But there are those who are spiritual, who are led into or out of their previous merely religious behaviour into spiritual behaviour (which looks very similar), because they are led by the Spirit, and by spiritual examples. And I personally believe in the words that "those who seek, find."

If you are led to do something physical like put on a headcovering - a thing so small but so outwardly visible and so criticized in all religious and non-religious circles -, and by faith - and not mere rationalization or fear or pride or "religious requirement" (which may indeed have been your first reason) - you do it, then I think you are one step further along in your path of true spiritual faith. And I say, keep on walking.

Please write to me and let me know what you think about this or any other thing. - LisaM
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