A question of religious freedom ... - Mothering Forums
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merpk's Avatar merpk 03:32 AM 05-29-2003
The story ...

I remember reading about this some months back. It's really a difficult question ... but it seems to me that driving is a privilege, and that certain parameters define the availability of the particular privilege, one of which is that drivers must be licensed, and now that pictures are standard on licenses, the pictures must be there.

There are many people of my ... religious persuasion who believe that you may not even be photographed at all. But the ones who drive will have their photograph taken for the license, because they need to drive and that's the law of the land.

Then again, on the other hand, there's that slippery-slope idea. You know, push one boundary, the rest fall fast & furious ... so it is important to fight for those boundaries.

When I was a court reporter, I recall taking the testimony of a witness who was veiled, and the defense attorney argued that his client couldn't confront the witness if he couldn't see her. The Judge ruled (and I agreed) that she could remain veiled, as she was there to be examined and cross-examined, and the defendant could see her well enough for the purposes of confronting his accuser, and the veil in no way limited the attorney's questioning and her answering.

Anyway, it's in the news & interesting ... & now that I've finally figured out how to do that "url" thingy on a link, I'm just looking for excuses to put links in my threads ... :LOL

JessicaS's Avatar JessicaS 05:54 AM 05-29-2003
Wow, that is a tough one. When I was bartending I saw a driver's license once without a pic and refused to serve them. Not that a muslim person would be in a bar but I have seen them without pics.

I think she should be able to get the pic without removing her veil.
Anyone trying to avoid a pic would have to show proof that it violates their religion and that wouldn't be easy IMO.
kama'aina mama's Avatar kama'aina mama 06:53 AM 05-29-2003
Driving is a privilege, not a right. It is not as though they are the only ones who must conform or lose this privilege. I recall that in the 80's hairstylist to the stars Jose Eber let his license lapse rather than be photographed sans the trademark cowboy hat that Farrah had given him. There are rules. Everyone follows them. That's what makes it fair.
Deirdre's Avatar Deirdre 09:42 AM 05-29-2003

I understand the whole driving is privilege we should follow the rules answer....


up until 9/11 the State of NJ didn't even require pictures on drivers licenses. Of course if you were young and wanted to go to a bar you made sure you had a picture (or got some other form of photo i.d. like a passport or state i.d. card), but people like my Mom were more than happy to forgo the snapshot. So I guess I want to know why it is so important that a picture be on a license if this state managed for years without it? Is it because of terrorism? I mean if someone *wants* a photo i.d. then great, but what relation does it play in relation to the document that says you have passed all applicable tests which enable you to legally drive? I realize driver licenses have become the de facto form of photo i.d. (for check writing, I-9 forms, etc.) but that isn't their rudimentary purpose.

Or, from another angle...

If indeed this woman does get pulled over, and the police are trying to confirm whether she is said person identified on card won't she be wearing her veil? Won't a picture of her veiled be *what she looks like* on any random day? I looked at the picture of her veiled and you can see her eyes very clearly. Are the cops going to force her to remove veil so they can then match her up with the unveiled picture?? That sounds like when the slippery slope gets started.....

I don't know the answer and don't really have an opinion, just throwing some thoughts out there
JessicaS's Avatar JessicaS 09:45 AM 05-29-2003
Are the cops going to force her to remove veil so they can then match her up with the unveiled picture?? That sounds like when the slippery slope gets started
That would be my worry as well.
sohj's Avatar sohj 10:41 AM 05-29-2003
The last time I renewed my drivers' liscence (never can spell that word!) VT's standard was w/o a photo. For a photo, you paid extra. It is considered a driving permit, NOT an identification card. When I think I'm going to be "carded", I take my passport. It happens less and less lately. But the few times it has happened unexpectedly, the permit w/o the photo has worked...maybe because it says I'm older than those checking my ID!
neveryoumindthere's Avatar neveryoumindthere 11:04 AM 05-29-2003
although we share similar beliefs, to be honest at first i was thinking ok come on this is for public safety and she could have the picture taken by a woman and just tuck it away in her wallet and never have to use it except in necessity (i'm against picture-taking as well, in general, but do so for exceptional circumstances like this for example)...

BUT then i read an article that was saying that ...

Many other states issue driver's licenses without photographs, and Florida issues thousands of driver's training permits annually that don't have photos, Marks said.

Other courts have ruled that fundamentalist Christians who also have religious prohibitions against having their photographs taken can get licenses without one.
here's the link

now, at first i was thinking she's gotta lose this case cuz 'everyone' gets their picture taken but HELLO!!! did those other ppl with NO pictures on their license have it taken away?

personally even though i'm so against pictures for religious i think everyone should have some type picture ID in case of crimes, or missing persons, going across the border etc, but if this is the case i'm on her side because the rule should apply to everyone, not just her
3boys4us's Avatar 3boys4us 11:09 AM 05-29-2003
I saw this before and have the same questions as everyone else. While I sympathize with her, I wonder how other devout Muslim women get their liscenses (with pictures).

If she was able to get her liscence before while veiled then FL should go along with it. Otherwise it doesn't really make sense.

My original thought was - can't she wear a sheer veil to get around the whole issue?
3boys4us's Avatar 3boys4us 11:13 AM 05-29-2003
I read saffiyya's article and it is bizarre how fundie Christians can go without a picture while this woman cannot. Also the timing is a little off too - she only received the warning after 3 mos. after 9/11.

But I did note that she moved from IL so she never did have her original lis. from FL.
1jooj's Avatar 1jooj 11:30 AM 05-29-2003
The biggest problem seems to me to be the definition of "veil."

It happened here is WI, with a woman wearing a simple headscarf, with her whole face exposed. The person at the DMV told her she had to take it off. She refused. The DMV employee refused to take the photo & issue the license. Muslim communities work hard here to maintain active relationships with our elected officials. The governor (I think at the time he was AG) got involved. She got a "valid without photo" license, and the DMV employee got some trouble.

Please. If I am wearing a scarf, and I always wear a scarf, why would I take it off for an ID photo? It would not look like I look. KWIM?

Personally, I disagree about covering the face--not that I think my understanding of Islam should make a difference here. I wonder about the safety of driving with a veil that close to the eyes. All that said, again, if this is how the woman goes out and appears normally, how would an ID photo with her full face be helpful in any way?

Also, if exemptions are made for other religion-based reasons, there it is.

I got a kick out of the "beard dyed red" note. I suppose he has henna in his beard.
artemesia's Avatar artemesia 01:01 PM 05-29-2003
I am not sure that I entirely agree that driving is a privilege. At one time, yes, it was. Cars were only for the wealthy and they were really a recreational novelty. However, in many rural areas, there is no such thing as reliable mass transit, or even a taxi. Having a car and being able to drive is absolutely necessary in order to get to work so one can support their family. Personally, I wish this were not so, I would love to ditch my car. But for many people this is a reality. Without driving a car, they can not get to work so they can not provide the basics of food, clothing and shelter. Taking away this "privilege" would also take away the means to provide the basic needs of living. Does one not have a right to food, clothing and shelter?
neveryoumindthere's Avatar neveryoumindthere 01:09 PM 05-29-2003
Another article to read...there are statements from the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida

ACLU Asks Florida Court to Reinstate Suspended Driver's License of Muslim Woman Forced to Remove Her Face Veil

At this week's trial, the ACLU also plans to argue the state is singling out Freeman based on her religious beliefs, while allowing others to obtain driving permits without photographs. According to Marks, Florida officials issued more than 800,000 temporary licenses and/or driving permits - without photographs - in the past five years to individuals in a variety of different categories. Convicted drunk drivers with revoked licenses are legally allowed to drive in Florida using only driving permits without photographs, as are foreign nationals, those who failed their eye or written exams and military personnel.
State officials filed a motion to dismiss Freeman's lawsuit, claiming she is being "hypersensitive" and that public safety concerns outweigh her religious beliefs
that's rude...

"Florida issues driver's licenses when it is satisfied that people are capable of driving on the roads of our state," added Marshall. "State officials should not be permitted to convert driver's licenses into mandatory universal identification cards."
hurray for Marshall
mahdokht's Avatar mahdokht 01:46 PM 05-29-2003
Deirdre's Avatar Deirdre 02:48 PM 05-29-2003
Artemesia ~ I can totally see your point re: driving=privilege. However, the government certainly views it as a privilege. If I remember correctly the 1st page of the NJ drivers manual says something to like "driving is a privilege, not a right". I remember as a teen thinking it sounded very "big brother" to me But you have made excellent points about the necessity of driving in most areas.

Back to the issue at hand, I think everyone makes great points. I guess I am still "stuck" on the fact that the *purpose* of a drivers license is not photo identification. A person can get a photo i.d. through other methods. A DL is to verify someone has passed all requirements to drive. So I am not sure why a picture is essential at all. If it is not essential why can't this person skip the picture altogether?

Els' 3 Ones's Avatar Els' 3 Ones 03:49 PM 05-29-2003
I hate my dl picture. Every one I ever took. Next time I'll try to get a dl w/o one. Never even knew it was an option.

ITA with Deirdre.

kama'aina mama's Avatar kama'aina mama 05:32 PM 05-29-2003

After reading that second article I am actually more on her side than I was before. But I am still torn. Yes, a DL need not actually be an ID but it does seem to me that it is useful to have a picture on it to verify that the person waving it around claiming they are legal to drive is actually the person who passed the tests and earned the license. But that's not what the state of Florida is saying. In fact, what they do say indicates that it is virtually guaranteed that the photo, should she permit it being taken, would almost certainly be used in a way she would find offensive. It will be a digital photo and it will be stored in a database where many people will have access to it. It's all well and good to arrange for her to have privacy from men while the photo is taken but if the photo is then used in such a way that guarantees that any number of men will view it the gesture is rendered moot.

Also, note that the fundie Christians who have successfully challenged similar laws were in different states so while that may help her it also may not since licenses are issued by each state and each has it's own laws regarding them.
Meiri's Avatar Meiri 04:37 PM 05-30-2003
If FL is selectively prosecuting this, then I am going to change over to her side.

I think it's a public safety and identification issue as well as a consistancy issue on her part. She wants the veil as if it's required (as in Saudi Arabia) but also wants the license (as forbidden in SA). The Arab countries that allow women to drive also require photo identification that shows the face.

You cannot have it both ways IMO. But then neither can FL or any other state: if a photo is required then it should be required of ALL. If a photo is not required then it shouldn't be selectively enforced on Muslims only.
frogertgrl's Avatar frogertgrl 04:21 PM 06-06-2003
A FL circuit judge ruled this morning that she cannot wear her veil for her DL photo.


After hearing three days of testimony last week, Circuit Judge Janet C. Thorpe ruled that the state has a compelling interest in protecting the public, and that having photo identification was essential to that interest.

Thorpe also said Sultaana Freeman's right to free exercise of religion would not be infringed by having to show her face on her license.

neveryoumindthere's Avatar neveryoumindthere 04:28 PM 06-06-2003
i feel bad for her...

whether or not i agree that the veil is obligatory aside, why did they have to show a picture of her unveiled and unscarved and have it posted on the net and used in the courtroom?... wasnt her whole point that she has reservations about showing her face...never mind her hair and neck and part of her chest...

i wear the scarf, i dont cover my face, but i would be MORTIFIED if my picture was posted on the net or in newspapers even WITH my scarf on...
frogertgrl's Avatar frogertgrl 04:34 PM 06-06-2003
I completely disagree with the Judge's ruling and am disheartened by this outcome. After reading your post, saffiyya, I'm horrified.

I so wish this ruling had gone the other way. The prosecutors reasoning makes no logical sense to me.
1jooj's Avatar 1jooj 04:52 PM 06-06-2003

Really. That is how I feel. Like Safiyya, I don't cover my own face. But I really don't see how her religious freedom is being protected here. I really do not.

Perhaps, as I mentioned above, it's because of the related case I am aware of in my own home state, which went completely in the opposite direction.

I was talking to a sister yesterday about the case, and she found it interesting, the way reporters/commentators seemed to want to undermine Ms. Freeman's sincerity by pointing out her choice to wear kohl on her eyes (which they referred to as eye makeup, calling to question her actual degree of modesty...and btw our prophet--peace be upon him--was known to put the stuff on his eyes), and the fact that, while she coveres all but her eyes, she leaves her hands uncovered...and that her understanding/practice of Islam's requirements are a minority one--and therefore less entitled to protection?! All kinds of yucky feelings on my own part.

I understand a need for security...but I just do not see the connection.
EFmom's Avatar EFmom 05:16 PM 06-06-2003
I think the law ought to be consistently enforced within a state, but I do think driving is a privilege, not a right. I'd read that she was told that she could have the photo taken in private by a woman. If a state uses photo ID, then I think she should either remove the veil for the photo or not be allowed to drive.
neveryoumindthere's Avatar neveryoumindthere 05:34 PM 06-06-2003
EFmom i would agree with u as well...they should be consistent..and i myself thought that it was 'no big deal' for her to remove her veil if another woman takes her picture and she can be extra careful with her driving etc. BUT in that case *everyone* should have a picture on their driver's license rather than having some exceptions because there ARE valid licenses that have been issued in Florida with NO picture ID...

now how is that fair?

and after they made her look so bad, bringing up the past (when she was not wearing the veil) when maybe she wasnt practicing islam as much or with the same knowledge as she is now...

whether she is in the minority or the majority with regard to fully covering is irrelevant...not all christians think taking pictures is impermissible yet some of them are against it so they were able to obtain licenses without a photo... : (this is nothing against those of the Christian faith but this is the example that was sited during the case--i myself am against pictures/image-making although i make exception in cases of ID)

kinda OT --i wonder how the judge would rule if this happened here in canada?
nernie's Avatar nernie 12:27 AM 06-07-2003
stupid question within the topic - will someone tell me why you are against pic-taking? My son has a classmate who cannot have her pic taken but I never got to ask a parent why. I was not familiar with this before meeting this family, and I'm Christian. Thanks for taking the time to explain to iggnint ol me!
neveryoumindthere's Avatar neveryoumindthere 03:21 AM 06-07-2003

here are some authentic narrations regarding image-making:

Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Allaah, may He be exalted, says: 'Who does more wrong than the one who tries to create something like My creation? Let him create a grain of wheat or a kernel of corn.'" (Reported by al-Bukhaari, see Fath al-Baari, 10/385
'Abdullaah ibn Mas'ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Those who will be most severely punished by Allaah on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, see al-Fath, 10/382).
what is photography? is it not image-making? (some ppl say only drawing images is forbidden but i agree with the following)

Taking pictures with a camera involves human actions such as focusing, pressing the shutter, developing, printing, and so on. We cannot call it anything other than "picture-making" or tasweer, which is the expression used by all Arabic-speakers to describe this action
here is a ruling by one of the scholars about necessity:
Photographs which are essential are permitted - such as those required for identity documents, or for identifying or pursuing criminals [e.g. "wanted" posters and the like - translator's note], or for educational purposes which cannot be achieved otherwise. The principle in sharee'ah (islamic law) is that we should not exaggerate about what is necessary
i hope that helps...
i realize there are other opinions, but this is mine, based on what i know/read/believe from the scholars and their knowledge of Qur'an (God's words) and Sunnah (way of the Prophet-peace be upon him)
mahdokht's Avatar mahdokht 08:00 AM 06-07-2003
EFmom's Avatar EFmom 08:47 AM 06-07-2003
To enforce this consistently, they should also invalidate the licenses of others who don't have pictures and either have them get a photo or stop driving also. I think that's perfectly reasonable. I wasn't implying that it's OK to single out the veiled woman.
1jooj's Avatar 1jooj 05:39 PM 06-07-2003
This is a really interesting discussion--and I think we all agree on a few points. It seems that it has not been fully established whether the DL serves as an ID, or whether all faiths have been equally regarded in terms of this issue. Seems to me, if FL said, "we require a photo to be a part of the DL because in the state of FL, it is regarded as a state ID card," and "no exceptions, ever, period," then that would be that.

I fall into step with Mahdokht on the reason for wanting to support her--regardless of the fact that she is Muslim. It also seemed that bringing in scholars only served to show that her practice is not "typical," which helped her none.

I carried a "valid without photo" DL for more than 2 years myself, because I renewed it while out of the country. Even got pulled over once with it. Cop asked me why I had it, I told him, and it was no biggie. My speed, of course, was another story...

But it does need to be established whether driving is a privelege that REQUIRES submitting to the photo, along with the testing etc., and I hope it can be shown that all religions are treated equally in cases for exceptions.
Hilary Briss's Avatar Hilary Briss 06:10 PM 06-07-2003
I found out in my training course this week that Wis. exempts people from having a photo on their DL if they have a strongly held religious conviction that prohibits them from doing so. This whole issue would be moot if this woman lived in a slightly more progressive state.
1jooj's Avatar 1jooj 06:19 PM 06-07-2003

What's that "Jeb Factor" they're talking about in the other threads...? :