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Muslim woman to challenge ban on veil in driver's license photo
June 28, 2002 1:19 AM   Subscribe

Muslim woman to challenge ban on veil in driver's license photo Another example of how the fundamental structure of American society is built upon Christian monothestic values. Should she be accomodated and if so what does that do to the relevance of picture IDs? Further, what if it's against someone's religion to even have their picture taken at all?
posted by fooljay (65 comments total)

 
It should be noted that she was willing to provide identifying information for the drivers license, such as a fingerprint or DNA sample. True, she can't be recognized on sight, but then perhaps she's willing to go through the extra delay of having a fingerprint checked out.

Once they have retinal scan technology for use in ID on a wide scale, then there would be no problem with her desire to wear that particular veil. Those who wear the full-body coverings that were so well-liked by the Taliban wouldn't be driving anyway.
posted by meep at 1:25 AM on June 28, 2002


So in one respect, I certainly understand and sympathize with law enforcement officials. If ID's don't have pictures (or in this case, a nearly worthless picture) it's extremely difficult (or at least time consuming) to verify someone's identity. Pictures in the database are also critical for officer's in identifying suspects.

At the same time, America prides itself (and I say that with a hint of sarcasm) on tolerance and acceptance of the diversity of it's citizens.

But what would happen if, say, the tenets of capitalism were against one's religion? No shop owner could be required to give things away for free just because someone is barred for paying for things by their religion.

Driving isn't a right, right? But IDs are required are they not?

Does anyone know what they do in Middle Eastern countries for driver's licenses and passports?
posted by fooljay at 1:31 AM on June 28, 2002


On a more humorous note, at least bouncers never have to worry about someone using her license to get in to the bar.
posted by fooljay at 1:33 AM on June 28, 2002


You both make good points. Hopefully this discussion won't turn ugly in the morning when everyone has weighed in.

My two cents: yes, ideally, technology would allow for something more sophisticated than a photo ID ... down the line. Since that isn't possible yet, and these laws apply to us all, they apply to her. If she chooses not to abide them, there are other countries where she may accordingly choose to reside.
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:35 AM on June 28, 2002


Even according to those who believe that Muslim women must wear a veil, it need only be worn in public when there is a chance of being seen by men. The solution in this case? Find a private room in the local DMV and have have a female staffer take a picture of the woman's face, unveiled.

The real trouble comes when the police stop this person and ask her to remove the veil.
posted by skoosh at 1:49 AM on June 28, 2002


If she were stopped by the police for reckless driving, could she refuse to reveal her face on freedom of religion grounds? The officer has a duty to verify the identity of a suspect, I think. Could she claim a violation of her civil rights if the officer forcibly unveiled her?

There is a concept I learned from a visiting Constitutional scholar, "compelling governmental interest," (cf. assault weapons restrictions) which I think would apply here. I suppose John Ashcroft would like to apply it to lots of things, but I hazard to guess that most Americans would be comfortable with requiring her to suffer the indignity of having her picture taken, in the interest of public safety.
posted by planetkyoto at 1:53 AM on June 28, 2002


In PA we don't require a photo if you object on religious grounds. I think it's ludicrous, but that's the law here.
posted by revbrian at 2:01 AM on June 28, 2002


why did they let her have a licence without a proper picture in the first place? If it worked before 9/11 it should work after, no?

to me this is hilarious, I had to take a record breaking 23 pictures last time I got my passport renewed beacuse my face was never big enough in the picture. BIG enough! Clearly visable and all, just not large enough.

and over there, you have veils in pictures. wonder how that works in passports?
posted by dabitch at 2:03 AM on June 28, 2002


Even according to those who believe that Muslim women must wear a veil, it need only be worn in public when there is a chance of being seen by men

Apparently she's a newbie convert. One of those irritating personality types who always overdo their new 'thing'.
posted by HTuttle at 2:04 AM on June 28, 2002


Middle Eastern countries and let women drive......I wonder what sort of sadistic punishment would result from that.
posted by johnnyboy at 2:04 AM on June 28, 2002


"It doesn't target religion," Vail said of the requirement. "It targets everyone."

That sounds 'American-Bad' to me. (and his name is Vail, go figure...)
posted by Frasermoo at 2:07 AM on June 28, 2002


Another example of how the fundamental structure of American society is built upon Christian monothestic values.

Photo ID's are Christian monotheistic values? Golly, guess they must not have them in Shinto and Buddhist Japan.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 2:11 AM on June 28, 2002


Do veiled women have trouble seeing well enough to drive? I've never worn one, but veils I've seen -- though maybe not the one in the article linked here -- look as if they might considerably restrict your vision. Or do they just flip back the eye covering when they jump behind the wheel? (Doesn't "when there is a chance of being seen by men" include stopping at a red light?)

> If she were stopped by the police for reckless driving,
> could she refuse to reveal her face on freedom of
> religion grounds?

If she did, and if the officer thought it was worth pursuing, she could always be taken to the station for an identification procedure that would respect her religious beliefs.

> and his name is Vail

Ha!
posted by pracowity at 2:13 AM on June 28, 2002


Apparently she's a newbie convert. One of those irritating personality types who always overdo their new 'thing'.

Arrrgh. I've seen the type before. They object just to object, not even aware of what their objection really is. For the record, I've never heard of any Muslim women having a problem with this before. Of course, the vast majority of them dress just like anyone else, but even the somewhat conservative ones I've seen around major cities or on college campuses have seemed compartively undistressed.

In PA we don't require a photo if you object on religious grounds. I think it's ludicrous, but that's the law here.

Is that on account of the Amish (or is it Quaker) contingent?

The fact that we can even have a rational discussion about this makes me love our country.
posted by donkeyschlong at 2:15 AM on June 28, 2002


Fooljay, in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive, among many other limitations to the lucklessness of being born with boobies.

However, in more moderate Muslim countries like Malaysia, those who insist on wearing a veil to take ID photos are simply not allowed to drive because the driver's license is nothing if not a form of simple and easy identification. Either you take it off, or you walk. (Certainly there are some advantages to living in a socialist dictatorship -- the rules are always simple.)
posted by timyang at 2:18 AM on June 28, 2002


Commit adultery - get stoned to death.
posted by Frasermoo at 2:21 AM on June 28, 2002


Yawn, Fraser. Off topic.
posted by donkeyschlong at 2:31 AM on June 28, 2002


fooljay: what if it's against someone's religion to even have their picture taken at all?

revbrian: In PA we don't require a photo if you object on religious grounds.

This is also the case in Nebraska (and I suspect several other states). Our law was successfully challenged by a fundamentalist woman about twenty years back.
posted by RavinDave at 2:36 AM on June 28, 2002


Learn some manners donkey.
posted by Frasermoo at 2:45 AM on June 28, 2002


This is obviously not just about driving, actually. If you see the remarks she makes, it's about how the Driver's License is used as a universal ID around the U.S. (I use my passport, but that's a pricey way to go, and some people have had the experience that passports are refused as a legitimate form of ID). Of course, she's the kind of person who would never have a photo I.D. in the first place.

This also reminds me that at my alma mater, 4 semesters of phys. ed. classes were required, and since we were getting more and more Muslim students, we had some women-only classes instituted. The content was entirely the same as the co-ed classes, it's just that we had a PE uniform everyone had to wear, and that was shorts during a certain time of the year.

Don't mean to derail the convo. I just want to say that accomodations can be made. She's made a choice that makes life very difficult for her in this society, and she's trying to meet them partway for law enforcement purposes, at least. It's not convenient for anybody, but hopefully for her the retinal scan stuff (much more accurate than fingerprinting) will be developed into a handheld version for general ID purposes as I mentioned above. Then she will have absolutely no problem.

Still, how much depends on the convenience of the police? It would be convenient to them, as well, not to have to go through the bother of getting warrants for searches, but we have certain principles in the U.S. government. If she is willing to be brought into the station each time she's pulled over when driving, they should be willing to take her. There's a compromise situation here -- there's other identifying characteristics which can be noted on the license -- instead of a picture, a fingerprint can be put in the picture's place. If she's such a problem driver that she's getting pulled over all the time, then revoke her license.

If I remember correctly, some states are now putting a fingerprint on driver's licenses. Anybody here have to do that?
posted by meep at 2:49 AM on June 28, 2002


You could have a woman take her picture at the DMV. Have a female police officer check under the veil when needed.

That would probably require more women on the police-force though...
posted by Stuart_R at 5:36 AM on June 28, 2002


now putting a fingerprint on driver's licenses
Meep, they actually have a photo of your fingerprint next text to your face photo? I had to put my thumb on a photo light, for their records. Now my looks have to compete with a thumb print, man.
posted by thomcatspike at 6:02 AM on June 28, 2002


do you need to have a photo taken for a bus pass? problem solved. :)
posted by stifford at 6:05 AM on June 28, 2002


That's a pretty cool license for Florida, now that I looked at it again, I didn't know everyone nickname in this state was "patch".
O'yea the pirate state, doh.
posted by thomcatspike at 6:10 AM on June 28, 2002


Pictures are required for licenses.

Having her picture taken with a veil on is like not having a picture taken.

No picture, no license.

Against her religion to not wear a veil? Isn't it against her religion to even have the right, as a woman, to drive?

I don't know what's more ridiculous: that this is an issue in the first place, or that there are so many people supporting her side of it.

If you don't like a law in America that every other American here has accepted, go home. Simple.
posted by eas98 at 6:18 AM on June 28, 2002


Another example of how the fundamental structure of American society is built upon Christian monothestic values.

"7. Do not overstate. When you overstate, the reader will be instantly on guard, and everything that has preceded your overstatement as well as everything that follows it will be suspect in his mind because he has lost confidence in your judgment or your poise. Overstatement is one of the common faults. A single overstatement, wherever or however it occurs, diminishes the whole, and a single carefree superlative has the power to destroy, for the reader, the object of the writer's enthusiasm."

-- William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style
posted by pardonyou? at 6:23 AM on June 28, 2002


The fact that we can even have a rational discussion about this makes me love our country.

I agree.

Seems kind of lame that they let her do it last year, and now all of a sudden it is a huge problem. If it was a problem, it should have been a problem last year when she initially got her license.

Commit adultery - get stoned to death.

In no way is that comment even tied to this thread, and donkey certainly wasn't out of line in pointing that out to you. Stay with the subject.
posted by a3matrix at 6:28 AM on June 28, 2002


pardonyou?, you are my new hero! I think that Strunk and White excerpt should be prominently displayed at the top of the MetaFilter home page...
posted by Tin Man at 6:29 AM on June 28, 2002


I'm all for it, Tin Man. But sometimes I worry that without overstatement, there'd be no MetaFilter.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:32 AM on June 28, 2002


If you don't like a law in America that every other American here has accepted, go home. Simple.

Oh right, because people who wear veils mustn't be from America. Otherwise they wouldn't protest. The damn furriners.

Your racist tripe aside, I agree with the 'no photo, no license' philosophy. Officers need to be able to make a quick ID without having to hem and haw over religious sensitivities, real or pretended. It's an issue of safety.
posted by Marquis at 6:41 AM on June 28, 2002


Against her religion to not wear a veil? Isn't it against her religion to even have the right, as a woman, to drive?

No, there are countries that don't allow women to drive but that's not for religious reasons it's a political one.
posted by machine at 6:42 AM on June 28, 2002


If the statute had been consistently applied (i.e., if it hadn't changed after 9-11) she would lose. The current interpretation of the federal Free-Exercise clause is something like this: "a law that is neutral and of general applicability need not be justified by a compelling governmental interest even if the law has the incidental effect of burdening a particular religious practice." The wrinkle here, I think, is that the state was apparently willing to make concessions to Moslem women until terrorism became such a significant issue. So, (1) is the object of that change "to infringe upon or restrict practices because of their religious motivation," and--if so--(2) does the public-safety issue constitute a compelling governmental interest. My prediction: (1) no; (2) yes.
posted by subgenius at 6:55 AM on June 28, 2002


eas98: If you don't like a law in America that every other American here has accepted, go home. Simple.

i don't see how going back to bakersfield is going to help with the laws i don't like. could you elaborate on this?

also, i don't see the issue about police "forcibly removing her veil": it'd be fairly simple to have a woman police officer called out to look under her veil. couldn't they just have a woman take the photo? then as long as she doesn't need to buy alcohol, tobacco, or pornography (all things which i understand fundementalist islam frowns on anyhow), she doesn't ever have to violate her religious beliefs, right?
posted by hob at 6:59 AM on June 28, 2002


The whole point is that she is not being forced to have her photo taken, she is choosing to exercise the privilege of driving a vehicle on public roads. Just one of the many conditions of doing this is that she must have a valid drivers license, part of which is a photograph.

If her religious beliefs are strong enough, she will be prepared to forgo the license if it conflicts with them in any way. It is completely her choice - we all have to make choices every day about what we are prepared to give up in order to have something that we want.

Having a female take the photo and only female police officers being able to see her license or her face is hardly practical, I think.
posted by dg at 7:21 AM on June 28, 2002


Your racist tripe aside

Racist? This has nothing to do with race. It may have something to do with religion, but that's a different story. I don't care if she's white, black, asian, or latin. In you rush to label something as racism, you forgot to check and see if you had any idea what you were talking about.

it'd be fairly simple to have a woman police officer called out to look under her veil

Are you willing to pay some extra tax dollars for that? Because I sure am not.

i don't see how going back to bakersfield is going to help with the laws i don't like.

I don't like paying taxes. So, either I can pay them, or move somewhere that has a tax system that I prefer.

There's such a thing as religious tolerance. And then there's where we are now, which is bending over backwards to accomodate every single little sensitivity that people have about something.

Having a license picture is either important, or it's not. If it is important, then it is important for everyone who drives, regardless of where you're from or what special rules you'd like to have for yourself.
posted by eas98 at 7:30 AM on June 28, 2002


If you don't like a law in America that every other American here has accepted, go home. Simple.

We have a winner for the stupid comment of the day!
posted by Bag Man at 7:40 AM on June 28, 2002


In no way is that comment even tied to this thread, and donkey certainly wasn't out of line in pointing that out to you. Stay with the subject.

I agree it was off thread, slightly, and I don't mind being told, however his prefixed 'Yawn' stinks of high-brow inflammatory rudeness.
posted by Frasermoo at 7:59 AM on June 28, 2002


Racist? This has nothing to do with race. It may have something to do with religion, but that's a different story.

Oh, jeez eas98, you're right. "Racism" was possibly a bit of a stretch. Prejudice and religious bigotry was what I probably should have said. "Contempt for fellow humans on the basis of faith?". Or maybe "small-minded xenophobia". Um. "Moronic pap", "asinine claptrap", "the sort of ignorant, contemptuous attitudes that have caused much of the woe in the history of humanity"? How about, uh, "absolute bullshit". Yeah. But "racism" might have been pushing it, if you don't call Muslims a race. In which case, my whole criticism of you was irrelevant - null and void due to a semantic "oops".

Sorry.
posted by Marquis at 7:59 AM on June 28, 2002


By way of comparison, how Westerners who marry Saudi men can expect to be treated in Saudi Arabia. The husband reverts to Bedouin dress, no matter how Westernized he had seemed, say, at college; he may take another wife or already have one; she'll have to live with a family who patronize and resent her by turns; living in the Western compounds is all but unheard of, let alone regularly socializing with other Westerners; pressure to convert to Islam is immense, but those who convert are not believed sincere; leaving the house without a male relative is illegal; obtaining a visa is only possible with the consent of the husband (the US embassy cannot help); and by contrast, in the event of a divorce, a woman may find herself without any rights in the Kingdom and immediately deported without access to her children.

Sarcastic comments are so tempting, but in so many ways superfluous.

It is, of course, every American's right to petition for redress of grievances, to appeal the application of a law to which they object. This doesn't make their position the automatically correct one. This case will undoubtedly come down to the Supreme Court's compelling interest test, which is where the state has a very important reason to abrogate a right such as religious freedom. Because some states permit exceptions, and others do not, this may become a 14th Amendment issue. I believe that Florida could probably demonstrate its view that it has a compelling interest in requiring a photo, but the fact that other states don't consider it an absolute requirement will surely be taken into account. Also at issue will be whether there are alternate acceptable means of ensuring the license properly identifies the driver to whom it is issued. Some form of biometrics could suffice in some cases, but not others. In the end, though, the DL is there for the singular purpose of saying "the bearer has passed the required skills and knowledge tests", not "the bearer matches this photo so that she can be identified in a line-up" or other broader purpose. Even though my common-sense sentiment lies with the state's compelling interest here, I suspect they'll lose in the long run.
posted by dhartung at 8:01 AM on June 28, 2002


Why should any secular government try to accomodate any type of religious fundamentalism? Why are her religious reasons more important than my whimsy? If this is allowed then "I don't like having my picture taken" should be, for reasons of equal rights to everyone, a valid excuse for not including your picture on your driving license or - hey why not?- your passport.
posted by talos at 8:08 AM on June 28, 2002


The bottom line is (as fooljay pointed out in one of the first responses, and other's seemed to touch on) that as Americans, we have many rights, but the right to drive is NOT one of them.

If she doesn't want to remove her vail to take the photo, that's her right on the grounds of freedom of religion... but then she doesn't get the PRIVILEGE of driving an automobile in our country.
posted by darian at 8:10 AM on June 28, 2002


eas98: I don't like paying taxes. So, either I can pay them, or move somewhere that has a tax system that I prefer.

Or you can start a movement, lobby congress and raise a stink to get the tax laws changed. The whole point of living here is that you can do stuff like that. By the people, for the people, right? Besides which, my point remains that Bakersfield's tax laws aren't any different than San Jose's. Dunno about you, but just in my group at work we have a Baptist, an Episcopal, a Catholic, a Mormon, a Buddhist, a Hindu, and a Muslim, all citizens from birth. Should Feroz go back to Minneapolis if he doesn't like the way California's laws treat him?

Are you willing to pay some extra tax dollars for that? Because I sure am not.

Well, first, we already have a well-established set of protocols for getting female officers to the scene when there is a female suspect in many other sorts of cases. I don't see how this is different. Second, am I willing to pay extra tax dollars to make sure everyone's religious freedoms are protected? You betcha. I mean, if we really wanted to do away with extra tax and bother, we could do away with the whole trial-by-jury thing, which only serves to release people that the police know are criminals, right?
posted by hob at 8:19 AM on June 28, 2002


Any woman who marries a Saudi man and moves to Saudi Arabia can't complain about the outcome: the Saudis couldn't be more clear about their laws and the (lack) of rights accorded women in general and wives in particular.

I do have great sympathy for women who marry Saudi men, intending to reside in the US, who then have their children taken from them in defiance of US law and spirited off to Saudi Arabia, whose courts won't enforce valid US child custody and support orders.
posted by MattD at 8:30 AM on June 28, 2002


I'm disturbed that anyone would be allowed to drive while wearing a veil in the first place. I'd think that it would be a bit of a safety hazard. Far worse than people on cell phones.
posted by jbelshaw at 8:34 AM on June 28, 2002


Not to mention that it prevents you from eating while driving.
posted by Tin Man at 8:39 AM on June 28, 2002


Or drinking.
posted by Marquis at 8:41 AM on June 28, 2002


There's such a thing as religious tolerance. And then there's where we are now, which is bending over backwards to accomodate every single little sensitivity that people have about something.

For Moslems of this level of orthodoxy, this is hardly a "little sensitivity." This is an important issue; for these women, being seen unveiled by an unauthorised male is the moral equivalent of committing adultery. Being forcibly de-veiled is synonymous with being raped. The desire to be veiled at all times in public is no more a "little sensitivity" than a Roman Catholic nun's desire to always be covered by her habit in public. (Nuns, might I add, are permitted to be photographed for driver's licenses in whatever their habit, even those who still wear wimples. Regulations prohibiting "hats or headwear" which have been used against religiously covering Orthodox Jews and Moslems don't apply against nuns. Go figure.)

When you boil it down, the question becomes whether or not we can legitimately limit the privilege of legal driving to those whose values and religious requirements align with the majority and therefore do not require a rethinking of regulations or exceptions which will require work to make an accomodation?

If the answer is yes, we can make that limitation, that's a giant screw you to everyone like Sultaana Freeman, and a huge violation of the First Amendment, much bigger, IMO, than a teacher leading a Pledge of Allegiance or school vouchers or any of the other sep of church and state issues raised this week.

If the answer is no, then the question of reasonable accomodation is raised. How can this woman's ability to take part in priveleges that should not be withheld from her be brought in line with her religious obligations wihch seem to get in the way?

Having a female take the picture should not be difficult. There are surely female driver's license photographers somewhere in the Orlando, FL. area. Using the photo for identification purposes is obviously out, but that's Freeman's (and those like her) problem to deal with.

Now, as to being pulled over, this is someplace where she'll have to live with the only ways to accomodate her -- she'll have to remove her veil for the stopping officer, or she'll have to be taken into custody. This is SOP if police feel the need to verify identity immediately and have no other means to do so. Once at the police station or booking facility there is always a woman on duty (to deal with incarcerated females) who can be called upon to look at Freeman without her veil and confirm her ID. She can then be ticketed as needed and sent on her way.

In the end, though, the DL is there for the singular purpose of saying "the bearer has passed the required skills and knowledge tests", not "the bearer matches this photo so that she can be identified in a line-up" or other broader purpose.

This is precisely why Pennsylvania does not require a photograph if you have philosophical objections to a photo or if you are legally a resident of the state, but living elsewhere for more than (I believe) 12 continuous months following the expiration date of your current license. (i.e. Members of the military on extended deployment, those who are doing extended study out of state, government employees, etc.) The driver's license photo, in PA law, is not a matter of necessity but convenience for both the bearer and law enforcement officials. Because there are means for the bearers to identify themselves otherwise, and because there are means for law enforcement to identify bearers otherwise, it is not mandatory.

Why should any secular government try to accomodate any type of religious fundamentalism?

Because we are a society, and many people in this society have beliefs and practices which are extremely important to them, and we seek to treat those people fairly and evenhandedly no matter what we think of those beliefs and practices, so long as those beliefs do not bring harm to anyone else. This is why judges routinely suspend trials for a day when participants (attorneys, jurors, even bonded defendants) are celebrating the Jewish High Holy Days, or Eastern Orthodox Christmas and Good Friday. This is why most jobs that aren't confined to banker's hours will do whatever possible to accomodate people's needs to not work on Friday nights, Saturdays or Sundays.
posted by Dreama at 8:41 AM on June 28, 2002


For what it's worth, moslem women's taboos against being seen without their veil are more along the lines of social taboos, analog to western women's taboos against displaying their breasts in public.
Though it is associated with a religion, on an individual and cultural basis you could no more ask a married moslem woman to allow you to see her face / hair or in some cases eyes than you could demand an Oklahoma christian woman to show you her pubic hair.

[side note] People (including some in this thread) are usually shocked both by other people's wierd, outlandish taboos and by the fact that their own taboos aren't the norm everywhere else. [/side note]
posted by signal at 9:36 AM on June 28, 2002


Why are her religious reasons more important than my whimsy?

Or to word it slightly differently, why are your whims LESS important than her religious reasons? Either way, the answer is that they are not. Our society, however, chooses to distinguish between them.

Having a female take the picture should not be difficult. There are surely female driver's license photographers somewhere in the Orlando, FL. area.

I have had driver's license photos taken in several states and it has ALWAYS been done in an open, public area. The gender of the person clicking the shutter becomes irrelevant, surely, when the facility itself opens the subject to the view to the eyes of hundreds.

many people in this society have beliefs and practices which are extremely important to them, and we seek to treat those people fairly and evenhandedly no matter what we think of those beliefs and practices

Actually, we very rarely do this except in cases invoking the religion card. Being respectful of other people and their rights does not necessitate respecting their beliefs, and catering to people's fantasies and delusions is not an appropriate occupation for the state.
posted by rushmc at 9:49 AM on June 28, 2002


I can see a lot of problems with a no-photo ID, for one thing, most business establishments which sell alchohol require a photo ID.

Oh. Never mind.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:06 AM on June 28, 2002


No. No. Nope. Won't work. Bullshit.

This woman is compromising others' safety by refusing to be photographed for an ID. It's fine if she doesn't want an ID and is willing to forfeit activities that require it. But a photo ID makes it easy for a human to verify an identity with a high degree of certainty within seconds, without equipment or access to databases.

Oh, and it should be illegal to drive with a veil... I don't know if it already is in my jurisdiction.

No, it is NOT an option to call out a female officer or take her to a station. This is useless waste of police resources that may be required at any moment to protect others' life and safety. Why do the police have to spend much more time and compromise their own safety to verify your identity than everyone else's?

Your religion should not compromise my safety.

wrt signal's comment, I think if this is a taboo, then it must go. I don't have to see your pubic hair to verify your identity, but I do need to see your face and a corresponding photograph.
posted by azazello at 11:09 AM on June 28, 2002


I'm not sure why people think comparisons to Saudi Arabia are valid in this specific case; this woman is an American-born convert. What might be interesting is to know what Saudi women's passports or other identification look like. I believe when this story first came out some time ago, I remember hearing that Saudi Arabia uses normal facial photos for ID cards. It only makes sense. Technically there is nothing in the Islamic religion that says you cannot have a picture taken. Of course, technically you are not required to cover your face-- these are local tribal customs that got integrated into the religion over time, and are interpretations of 'modesty.'

I had also heard that the local CAIR decided not to represent this woman. Does anyone know if this is the case?
posted by cell divide at 11:17 AM on June 28, 2002


Dreama - Being forcibly de-veiled is synonymous with being raped.

Wrong. Crime is not defined by religion in this country, not fucking yet.

Driving on public roads is a privelidge, not a right. She doesn't need to be photographed, just like she doesn't need to drive on public roads.
posted by NortonDC at 12:06 PM on June 28, 2002


I have had driver's license photos taken in several states and it has ALWAYS been done in an open, public area. The gender of the person clicking the shutter becomes irrelevant, surely, when the facility itself opens the subject to the view to the eyes of hundreds.

That's easily solved. She keeps the veil on until she's right in front of the camera. There is a wall behind a person being photographed (or a backdrop of some kind) so it's only the side view which would need to be shielded. She could easily bring along female friends or appropriate male relatives to stand alongside to block the view of anyone who should not see.

This woman is compromising others' safety by refusing to be photographed for an ID.

No she isn't. And she's been photographed, and has offered biometric identifiers. She's not a danger to anyone.

No, it is NOT an option to call out a female officer or take her to a station. This is useless waste of police resources that may be required at any moment to protect others' life and safety. Why do the police have to spend much more time and compromise their own safety to verify your identity than everyone else's?

This is what the police do when they have someone who has carelessly forgotten their ID, or has lost it and insists on driving anyway, and their identity must be established before appropriate citations can be issued. There's not a lot of difference between having no ID and having an ID that you can't show an officer because he's male. She could easily get a photo without her veil and then refuse to carry it -- hence causing the exact same police reaction.

Wrong. Crime is not defined by religion in this country, not fucking yet.

I didn't say that it was illegal on the level of rape, I said that it was synonymous, at least in the feelings of those who choose to be veiled. Having someone force you to take off your veil is a significant personal violation.
posted by Dreama at 12:44 PM on June 28, 2002


Women in California have that dumb law, can't drive in an over coat, which is another word for robe. Yet you would never think for that state, full of freaks, I Know.

Maybe she can go to Canada, or do they now have photos for all territories?

Never seen a driver license that would expire after the one issued to was sure to be expired(dead), until this. Saw one gentleman's, had to be in his 60's and it expired in the year 2050(driver not ID). As I recall, can't remember the territory. Check them out, or did recent times ruin that fun too.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:46 PM on June 28, 2002


cell divide...

yep. its only recently that Saudi women have been allowed to have their own personal ID...rather than an ID linking them to a husband or brother etc...and those new ID card do use unveiled pictures.

I'd imagine that those cards would mostly be used as ID for business transactions, where a woman would be helped by another woman, but i am sure the police would request it if needed.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:49 PM on June 28, 2002


Being forcibly de-veiled is synonymous with being raped.

I'm saddened by this analogy.

First, she's not being forcibly "anything". Keep the veil, no license. That's it. Second, the use of the word rape has become so standardized as to lose all meaning. I mentioned this a few months ago that the stigma of such a word evokes such emotion that the audience, normally rational, is thrown into a frenzy of "my God!". Lawyers and politicians often use this word in analogies for that reason. Third, and this might reveal a prejudice of mine, I cannot believe that a woman (in this case Dreama) would use this analogy. Rape is a terrible, terrible crime and to use it in such a demeaning fashion is to compromise your integrity.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:56 PM on June 28, 2002


I said that it was synonymous, at least in the feelings of those who choose to be veiled.

Which is why it is fortunate that good law is based upon reason, not "feelings."
posted by rushmc at 1:01 PM on June 28, 2002


No she isn't. And she's been photographed, and has offered biometric identifiers. She's not a danger to anyone.

If she, or an impersonator (which becomes much more likely in this case since it is so much easier to impersonate) is ever involved in a crime and apprehended by police, it is necessary for the safety of others for the police to identify her asap. This impedes that process.

This is what the police do when they have someone who has carelessly forgotten their ID, or has lost it and insists on driving anyway, and their identity must be established before appropriate citations can be issued. There's not a lot of difference between having no ID and having an ID that you can't show an officer because he's male. She could easily get a photo without her veil and then refuse to carry it -- hence causing the exact same police reaction.

Driving without a license is a punishable offense. It is not an acceptable practice for a person to drive or perform other actions that involve checking your ID without a proper way for a law officer, clerk, etc. to compare the picture on his license with his face. What I'm saying is that the practice of veiled (obscured) photographs on IDs (or refusing to show your face to a law officer, or driving with a veil on) should not be allowed to be established.
posted by azazello at 2:50 PM on June 28, 2002


What a stupid idea. I'm all in favor of her right to wear a veil (or a pink tutu, or a pair of seven-inch-long horns, or a tasteful ensemble from Abercrombie and Fitch, or indeed nothing at all), but the good order of society requires that citizens produce identification on request. Photos are an easy and non-invasive method of achieving an identification that's (wildly guessing) 1/105? accurate. Even if you personally think having your photo taken is unpleasant, it's not physically invasive in the same way as fingerprinting (1/108?) or blood sampling (1/109?).

So I say sure, she can wear the veil as often and wherever she likes, but a lawful authority can ask to see under it whenever it is reasonable to do so. In just the same way that a lawful authority can search your bowels whenever it is reasonable. Looking at your face is reasonable a lot more often.

Ash.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:42 PM on June 28, 2002


Third, and this might reveal a prejudice of mine, I cannot believe that a woman (in this case Dreama) would use this analogy. Rape is a terrible, terrible crime and to use it in such a demeaning fashion is to compromise your integrity.

I'm speaking from what women in my life who are veiled (a small subset of my family is Moslem of this ilk) and have been for their entire lives tell me it would be like to be forcibly de-veiled. In other words, if a police officer took it upon himself to pull off one's veil to see if the face behind it matched the face in the driver's license photo. It's an extreme personal violation which brings pain and shame. That's what I've been told -- I'm not veiled, so I have to take these women at their word.

The whole notion of someone who is veiled also wanting to drive is frought with peril, but the whole notion of someone wanting to live veiled in our society is frought with peril as well. These women are routinely told that they cannot stay in grocery stores because their veiled-ness poses a threat, or makes other shoppers uncomfortable. One of my cousins had a shotgun pulled on her when she walked into a gas station to pay for fueling up her car after dark. I suppose I'm inured to their plight somewhat, having heard the horror stories, but I also do not believe that people should be treated differently because of their religion, regardless of what that religion is or requires of them.
posted by Dreama at 11:35 PM on June 28, 2002


The one thing that everyone talks about here is the "right" to drive a card. She has the "right" to her driver's license. No, she doesn't. She has an ability to get a driver's license, but nothing is guaranteed about the right to drive.

The fact is, is that she is not following government regulations, which are non-religious and non-biased. These laws are based in a secular society, in which men and women are on equal playing grounds.

Religious tolerance is one thing, but when you get to secular governmental prodecures, you have to draw the line somewhere. I bet if someone went into the DMV with their face painted orange, they wouldn't let them take the picture like that. Its simply a matter of "it's a picture, we need a face."

Should a woman be allowed to obscure her identity in this way? What if she causes a 10-car pile-up, and takes off. No body can identify what she looks like.
posted by benjh at 6:21 AM on June 29, 2002


I also do not believe that people should be treated differently because of their religion, regardless of what that religion is or requires of them.

Sorry, but as stated that really is absolute nonsense. The so-called "requirements" of one's religion may be tolerated up to the point where they come into conflict with an existing law, no further. Go beyond that line, and you become an apologist for all sorts of lovely behaviors and acts.
posted by rushmc at 9:25 AM on June 29, 2002


Should a woman be allowed to obscure her identity in this way? What if she causes a 10-car pile-up, and takes off. No body can identify what she looks like.

So, in other words, she shouldn't be allowed to be veiled anywhere. Because by that same standard, she could do anything, take off, and no one would be able to identify her.

The so-called "requirements" of one's religion may be tolerated up to the point where they come into conflict with an existing law, no further.

And seeing as how this requirement did not conflict with existing law until after Sept. 11, and would not conflict with existing law in at least two other states (IL and PA) there is an inconsistency which requires scrutiny.
posted by Dreama at 12:24 PM on June 29, 2002


AFAIK there's no such thing as a right to drive.

As such there is no legal requirement to have a driver's license in order to participate fully in society, in the eyes of the law. Sure, it's impractical, but we're talking legalities here, not practicalities.

Sounds like a problem solved to me. Besides she surely isn't the only muslim woman in Florida who wears a veil. How do the other ones deal with this situation?
posted by clevershark at 2:23 PM on June 29, 2002


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