When Yvonne Allen of Tuskegee, Ala., went to renew her license in December, she was reportedly forced to remove the headscarf she wears for religious reasons. The clerk explained to her only Muslim women were allowed to cover their hair in the photos.
On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama filed a lawsuit on her behalf.
“I was devastated when they forced me to remove my headscarf to take my driver’s license photo,” Allen said in a statement released by the ACLU. “Revealing my hair to others is disobedient to God. I should have the same right as people of other faiths to be accommodated for my religious beliefs.”
Lee County’s refusal to grant Allen a religious accommodation contradicts state rules and violates her rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Alabama Constitution, according to the lawsuit.
On Wednesday, the Alabama chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) showed their support for the suit, saying that Christian women in Alabama should be able to wear a headscarf for a driver’s license photo, just as Muslim women and Sikh men are allowed to wear religious head coverings.
“Alabamans of all faiths should have the right to wear religious apparel in driver’s license photos,” said CAIR-Alabama Executive Director Khaula Hadeed. “The right to practice one’s faith is a universal right, one that should not be limited to Muslims and Sikhs.”
In 2004, Alabama changed a policy that prohibited the wearing of head scarves and turbans in driver’s license photos. The new policy allowed head coverings for religious and medical reasons.