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June 6, 2003 2:48 PM   Subscribe

Muslim woman sues over driver's license photo A muslim woman is suing the state of Florida because she doesn't want to take off her veil to take the photo. If everyone were allowed to take covered face photos, what would be the point of having a photo? "Whaddya mean that's not me? Look at the eyes!" More links: http://www.naplesnews.com/03/06/florida/d896205a.htm http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002/01/30/muslim-fla-suit.htm (old)
posted by filecrave (46 comments total)

 
Hard to understand the ACLU's position that a Florida law stating

"a color photographic or digital imaged drivers license bearing a full-face photograph."

is vague...
posted by cohappy at 2:53 PM on June 6, 2003


POSTED: 5:12 p.m. EST January 30, 2002
UPDATED: 9:21 a.m. EST June 27, 2002


Anyway, a driver's license is a privilege, not a right. If she refuses to let her picture be taken, she doesn't get a license. 'Nuff said.
posted by tomorama at 2:55 PM on June 6, 2003


Yes, but does she have to take it off for her mugshot? The Smoking Gun
posted by Xoc at 2:57 PM on June 6, 2003


I have an intense sense of deja vu right now regarding this issue...

I find it hard to believe that anyone would take the argument seriously that she should get a license without providing some way of positively identifying her. Maybe they should take some hair and fingernails and do a DNA test everytime they pull her over.
posted by catfood at 3:04 PM on June 6, 2003


I too have had some sultaana-related deja vu... the rhs pic on that SG page looks rather a lot like Brian's mother...
posted by dorian at 3:08 PM on June 6, 2003


Your sense of deja vu is almost one year old.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:11 PM on June 6, 2003


Is this the same woman from a post way, way back?
Saw this on Dallas local morning shows last week, but thought it was the woman previously discussed, now not so sure.

Driving is a privilege in most states and the morning crews, had no sympathy for her, said: walk, ride a bike, take the bus or use a taxi.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:11 PM on June 6, 2003


A drivers license is a certificate indicating you meet state requirements to drive. It's often used as an ID for buying booze and getting into clubs, but that's not the primary purpose.

I've been pulled over without my DL in the past, and it's easy for the cop to pull up your info. Why are we so hung up on IDs?

My inner civil-libertarian is too hung up on the idea that if she dosn't want her face on her DL, she shouldn't need to have it there to worry about the religious issues.
posted by delmoi at 3:12 PM on June 6, 2003


Yeah, but what's news is that she lost.
posted by swerdloff at 3:18 PM on June 6, 2003


This woman is incredibly silly, her concerns equally so, and we should debate ad nauseam about just how the law could pander to the silly demands of both this incredibly silly woman and her silly damned religion.
posted by xmutex at 3:29 PM on June 6, 2003


Well done, swerdloff. Saved me the Google effort.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:00 PM on June 6, 2003


I've got a question - judging from the photo of her in the linked article, I think the veil severely limits her vision, especially to the sides. Isn't this a safety hazard? Do her religious "rights" entitle her to endanger others by driving with limited vision?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:31 PM on June 6, 2003


entitle her to endanger others by driving with limited vision?
That was CHiPs plots many times over for handing out a ticket: guy in costume that covered head too; guy watching tv in big rig; guy with groovy sunglasses that were oversized on the sides; and all based on limited vision. Maybe she needs to watch more TV.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:59 PM on June 6, 2003


What bothers me about this case doesn't even approach the ruling itself; there seems to be a huge majority on the side of forbidding this woman from being photographed in the veil.

What bothers me is the issues that have been dragged up because this case gives an excuse to present them without sounding as offensive as you normally would: suddenly this debate, at least in other circles i've tuned into, have made this case an outright issue of "how silly" Islam is, rampant Xenophobia with the "obey what OUR country tells you" tone, and above all the obnoxiously-offensive-if-you-think-about-it notion that this needs to be done in the name of anti-terrorism.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:43 PM on June 6, 2003


Do her religious "rights" entitle her to endanger others by driving with limited vision?

Well, look at all the people on their cell phones who think they're Christ on earth.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:45 PM on June 6, 2003


Have you seen that thing she's wearing on her head? It's silly. As silly as a Klan hood. There; now I'm mocking a white American subculture, too.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:49 PM on June 6, 2003


OK; I immediately felt sorry for posting that. My emotions got the better of me. I believe that American government should do all it can to accommodate the wide variety of cultures in the country. But I also believe that there are serious issues regarding the status of women in Islam. There's a lot that can be said about the place of the veil in Islamic culture, I realize. And I also realize that feminist theorists have come down on both sides of the issue. But there's something about a woman insisting that her face must be hidden from all strangers that just doesn't sit right with my sense of gender equality.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:55 PM on June 6, 2003


Of course, you could argue, that it's American culture to show her full face for a driving license photograph.

Why does respect for culture only cut one way? She lives in a secular country (well, I'm speaking broadly, here) and not an Islamic state, that permits the wearing of the veil in an ID photograph (effectively rendering the ID device null and void, anyway.)

When in Rome...
posted by Blue Stone at 6:29 PM on June 6, 2003


Following her 1997 conversion to Islam, Sultaana Freeman (formerly Sandra Keller) was arrested in Decatur, Illinois for battering a foster child

She's a criminal. She wants to wear a hood to hide her face from authorities.

Next thing you know, members of the Ku Klux Klan will want their drivers license photo in full bed sheet regalia.
posted by paleocon at 6:38 PM on June 6, 2003


Fine, mr_roboto, but I believe that a story about anyone other than a Muslim suing to have their face covered in a license photo wouldn't have a thread to it titled "Free Terrorist ID Cards."

My point is that this debate branched into condemnation of Islam rather than sticking to where it should have been limited- common sense practicality. It's obvious to all that religious beliefs generally do not hold precedence over standard law- this woman cannot claim discrimination because she's not being told she can't wear a religious article; she's being told she can't wear facial covering. People looking for ways to attack Islam brought Islam into the argument.

That said, I'd just like to confess that ever since I read this story a week or so ago I've imagined a scene involving a professional circus clown trying to get a driver's license. If anyone else has had this image in their head, please let me know as I'd like to form a support group.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:41 PM on June 6, 2003


She's a criminal. She wants to wear a hood to hide her face from authorities.

Speaking of kneejerk reactions, I hope your leg doesn't hurt, paleocon.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:44 PM on June 6, 2003


XQUZYPHYR, I agree with you that too many people use issues like this as an excuse to bash Islam (or Christianity, or whatever), and I don't think attacking Islam because of the issue is fair, but isn't it Islam that requires the veil?

And while many people use the "obey what OUR country tells you" argument because of their xenophobia, I do think the concept of America is maintaining one's cultural or religious values while integrating or taking in American norms, too. I'm on the side of religious freedom, but I think there are some things everyone in the US has to put up with--the DMV, telemarketers, junk mail--and ugly but fully-bare driver's license pictures.
posted by gramcracker at 7:03 PM on June 6, 2003


>I agree with you that too many people use issues like this as an excuse to bash Islam (or Christianity, or whatever)

Why not? This "religious issue" nullifies the purpose of a photograph ID. Sorry, but the US gives way too much leeway to the crazy religious types. Christian scientists keeping their children from needed medicine, etc. There's a rational line to be drawn and it was properly drawn in court. Sorry, extremists and fundamentalists, you guys got a rare loss in a US court.

If the argument is irrational and the behavior makes little to no sense then why should the bashers hold their tongues? Sorry, but religion is not above criticism either.

cohappy, the ACLU tested whether removing the veil was "substantially burden" to the woman. The court said no. Democracy in action. They can always appeal.
posted by skallas at 7:32 PM on June 6, 2003


It comes down to, really:

A driver's license is identification. To be useful, an ID card must show enough of a person to allow the identification to be made. If a person doesn't want to allow that, they don't get the ID.

Driving is not a right. If you want to drive, you go with the rules - frankly, I see nothing unreasonable about requiring that the DL show enough of the person's face to be useful in assuring that the person on the card is the person who has it. This should never have been made into a 'persecuting the Muslim' case in the first place.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:32 PM on June 6, 2003


My driving licence doesn't have a photograph on it. People who got their licences a few years later have the photocard. That new licences include the photocard doesn't invalidate my licence. That's because it's a certificate of being compentent enough to pass a driving test, not an identity card, and shouldn't be treated as such.

If the state wants a photo ID, then it should institute a photo ID card. Or encourage people to get passports.
posted by riviera at 7:37 PM on June 6, 2003


Also, these state laws regarding special rights for religious people are a ghost of the feder RFRA which was stuck down as being unconstitutional.


David Silverman on RFRA proposal in NJ. Dated, but interesting reading.
posted by skallas at 7:46 PM on June 6, 2003


The comment aboive--a driver's license is a privledge not a right is correct, according to a judge I talked with on this issue. The ood thing: In France, where there is a substantial Muslim population, no question about this: id photo required and face must be shown. The lady ought to try Saudi Arabia, where Muslim ladies not allowed to drive.
posted by Postroad at 7:48 PM on June 6, 2003


Using that argument, riviera, I should demand that my concealed carry license not require me to be photographed as well ... since it's only a license saying that I know how to shoot a gun and know the laws about carrying my gun.

Drivers licenses ARE used as identification ... for writing and cashing checks, buying alcohol and cigarettes, entering nightclubs, using credit cards, picking up packages at the post office, applying for concealed carry classes and a ton of other instances where you need to be certain that the person say they are who they say they are or that they are the age they say they are (or both).

Won't you have to get the photocard version the next time you renew your license? Or are licenses in Britain a one shot deal where you get it and never have to renew it?
posted by Orb at 8:01 PM on June 6, 2003


As Veiled4Allah has pointed out in a lengthy thread on the subject, federal courts have already made an exception for a Christian woman whose faith deemed the ID photo a "graven image" (check your Exodus). [Quaring v. Peterson, 728 F.2d 1121 (1984)]

The controversy in France had the minister of the interior saying "We do not accept that French Muslim women cover their hair while being photographed for identity cards in police stations. Laws related to the Republic should not be violated." How'd you like to hear John Ashcroft telling you that about his warrantless search of your premises, for example? The French case was NOT a case of women wishing to conceal their faces, which is NOT part of the modesty requirements accepted by even conservative Sunni authorities. (A large majority of Muslims are Sunnis.)

(I'd give you a link to prove what I'm saying, but I'd be self-linking to my own translation of the item in French. God forbid.)

Suppose we accepted alternate forms of ID, such a fingerprints? You'd be trading in the convenience of visual inspection for a trip to the station house, but principles are principles. And this method would not be any more readily falsifiable or subject to theft than a photograph, or a PIN code accepted as identification at a grocery store. It seems like a reasonable accomodation for freedom of conscience.
posted by hairyeyeball at 9:22 PM on June 6, 2003


Another lengthy (and fairly old in Internet time) thread:
Little Green Footballs. And an English-language account of the French story from Khilafah
posted by hairyeyeball at 9:32 PM on June 6, 2003


>federal courts have already made an exception for a Christian woman whose faith deemed the ID photo a "graven image"

Two wrongs don't make a right. In fact there are four states that make religious exceptions to photographs, mostly due to 2nd commandment concerns. They should be challenged also. The fundamentalist religious element has had their chance with RFRA and RFRA-like legslation and keeps losing in court over first amendment concerns. Expect more of these cases to lose just like they did since Clinton signed the RFRA.

>Suppose we accepted alternate forms of ID, such a fingerprints?

Oh yeah, I can pitcure the 666 eschatology crowd screaming bloody murder over this one. The point some people are trying to make is that there is NO PROBLEM with photos and religious people do not deserve special rights just because they declare themselves to be religious. I don't think any consessions should be made to the religious. They have to play by the rules everyone else does.
posted by skallas at 9:42 PM on June 6, 2003


Women in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan must show their faces for photo IDs.
posted by Ron at 10:11 PM on June 6, 2003


But what's wrong about it? The federal court decided that rights, including making reasonable accomodations for freedom of worship, trump laws: That's what the Constitution is for, to offer means of correcting the tyranny of the majority.

And how is it contributing to the general insecurity of the American populace if those nut-jobs with their funny ways are offered some alternative way of identifying themselves? Rspecially now that the technical means are available? Hey, the 9-11 terrorists were photographed up the wazoo, many of them were here on student visas, but the ATM security-cam video on them only came to light after the attacks, and the messages revealing imminent attacks weren't translated on Sept. 12. Why should the burden be passed to citizens when the state can't extricate its thumb?

Gotta love that Freudian slip on "commandment" and "amendment" from Skalla. Rendering unto God that which is Caesar's.
posted by hairyeyeball at 5:19 AM on June 7, 2003


Speaking of slips: Translated until ... SpellcheckFilter.
posted by hairyeyeball at 5:19 AM on June 7, 2003


with the "obey what OUR country tells you" tone,

If the state wants a photo ID, then it should institute a photo ID card. Or encourage people to get passports.

And how is it contributing to the general insecurity of the American populace if those nut-jobs with their funny ways are offered some alternative way of identifying themselves?


Have any of you guys observed that this woman is from the United States, born and bred? She's a regular old B-flat caucasian from Middle America who converted to Islam later in life. To me, that affects the arguement significantly.
posted by dhoyt at 6:37 AM on June 7, 2003


It's not like once she gets her picture taken that the license picture will be posted for all to see. This picture STAYS IN HER WALLET! Sure, they are digital now and usually archived in the state's system, but again, the cops and authorities really don't care about what she looks like - sitting beside 12million other people.
posted by tomplus2 at 6:53 AM on June 7, 2003


dhoyt: To me, that affects the arguement significantly.

How so? I guess I don't see a difference in this case whether someone is born in Kansas and makes a concious choice to convert or is born in Kabul and raised in a given religion.

The question here is really whether driving is a right or a privilege. I don't see what basis there could be for defining "driving an automobile" as a contitutionally-protected right. Since one prerequisite for exercising the privilege of driving is having a state-issued license, one must comply with the rules and regulations of obtaining that license. The privilege of driving has certain costs, one of which is having your picture taken. If you choose not to have your picture taken, you forego the privilege of driving.
posted by JollyWanker at 8:56 AM on June 7, 2003


Driver’s identification rules in Muslim nations:

Saudi Arabia: Women aren't allowed to drive
Iran: Women wear a traditional Shadour, which does not cover the face.
Egypt: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
United Arab Emirates: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
Oman: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
Kuwait: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
Qatar: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
Bahrain: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
Jordan: Women can drive if their faces are covered but do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
posted by cell at 9:48 AM on June 7, 2003


IANALBIPOOTV: Courts have ruled time and again that driving is a privilege, not a right, though it comes closer to a right than many other privileges and accordingly the government needs to have a serious argument to take away the privilege. Requiring cops to fingerprint her, run the prints through the computer, and meanwhile hold her at the station is an unreasonable burden and so no way is this chickie, American born convert or whatever, going to prevail no matter how high she appeals.
posted by billsaysthis at 9:54 AM on June 7, 2003


Orb:

Drivers licenses ARE used as identification ... for writing and cashing checks, buying alcohol and cigarettes, entering nightclubs, using credit cards, picking up packages at the post office, applying for concealed carry classes and a ton of other instances where you need to be certain that the person say they are who they say they are or that they are the age they say they are (or both).

I don't challenge that: but all these uses are entirely customary. There are only a few documents that are designed specifically to identify the bearer, and those are passports and identity cards. To apply your rule, using the driving licence to do the job of an identity card is like using a gun licence to do the same job, and I don't know whether you'd be allowed on a plane by flashing a gun licence at passport control. I've been told that quite a few states don't require a photo on their 'licenses', so it's obviously a question of state laziness. I don't have any objection to states mandating full-face photos (or clown-makeup photos, if that's their kink) for identity cards, but not for things that are ID-by-custom. In short, because I wouldn't want the bloody DVLC in Swansea serving as a de facto register of people's identities.

Won't you have to get the photocard version the next time you renew your license?

My UK licence is valid till my 70th birthday, so it won't be for a while yet, and by then I suspect they won't have photocards, but microchip implants that send wireless signals to car ignitions.
posted by riviera at 10:23 AM on June 7, 2003


riviera, do you happen to recall which states don't require a photo? I was under the opposite impression - that all states had finally adopted photographs on license simply because here in the States they are our de facto ID cards. Unfortunately for us, the (analogous) bloody DMV in Schaumburg is the registrar of people's identities...

Also, remember that only some incredibly small percentage of the American population hold a valid passport, which is (1) currently the only form of identification Americans have that is both national and valid (we have Social Security cards, too, but the number is supposed to be "secret" and most people don't even have the card anyway) and (2) is inversely proportionate to what I seem to experience traveling in western Europe.

We do have state-issued ID cards in most (all?) states for people who don't drive (for any reason). All of the ones I have seen are identical to a driver's license since they are most often issued by the same state authority as drivers licenses. In every state that I'm aware of they also have the requirement of a photograph of the bearer's face on the front.
posted by JollyWanker at 10:56 AM on June 7, 2003


Gotta love that Freudian slip on "commandment" and "amendment" from Skalla. Rendering unto God that which is Caesar's.

There's no slip there. 2d amendment is right to bear arms, which has squat-all to do with this. The 2d commandment is about making graven images / idols / etc.

I've been told that quite a few states don't require a photo on their 'licenses', so it's obviously a question of state laziness

You've been told wrong. There are circumstances where you can get a license without a picture -- if you lose your license out of state and need a replacement, they might send you a replacement that says VALID WITHOUT PHOTO where the picture goes. But 99%+ of the people carrying around drivers licenses from American states will have their photos on them.

like using a gun licence to do the same job, and I don't know whether you'd be allowed on a plane by flashing a gun licence at passport control.

If it had a photo of you, probably. Most of the requirements ask for a government-issued photo id, not specifically for a d/l. Drivers licenses count, your passport would if you really wanted to carry it around, and if your pilot or gun or electrician's license had a photo of you on it, that would count too.

Most or maybe all states will also issue you a state-provided photo ID card that doesn't license you to do anything at all if you want.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:06 AM on June 7, 2003


There are only a few documents that are designed specifically to identify the bearer, and those are passports and identity cards.

U.S. driver's licenses, which carry a photograph as well as a description (height, weight, skin/eye/hair color) of the holder, plus a signature, are clearly "designed" to identify the bearer. Otherwise they wouldn't have all that identifying information on them.
posted by kindall at 11:25 AM on June 7, 2003


I wonder if this woman has a passport, and what she intends to do should she ever wish to travel.

Perhaps, as riveria suggests, in a decade or so we won't be relying on photo i.d. anymore (and let's face it, we could come up with something more reliable) but will have, say, fingerprint or eye scanners. Or if we'll all just have microchips implanted in us, like our pets.
posted by orange swan at 2:32 PM on June 7, 2003


>Gotta love that Freudian slip on "commandment" and "amendment" from Skalla.

Nope, its correct. The religious lobbies pushed for legislation to protect them from "idolotry" and "graven images." Both your tax dollars and church contribs at work there.
posted by skallas at 3:59 PM on June 7, 2003


I don't challenge that: but all these uses are entirely customary.

I'll remember to tell that to the bouncer at the door of the nightclub I try to get into when I have forgotten my license at home, the cashier at the bank when I want to cash a check, the federal agents at the Mexican border when I want to cross the border, or the nice police officer who asks to see my ID when I am walking down the wrong street at the wrong time.

It is far from just being "customary". And yes, I have used my state issued gun license as ID in a pinch, but it tends to make people jumpy, especially in banks.

I haven't been able to find anything about states which don't use a photo on their ID/Driver's Licenses. I do know that they were pushing them all to add photos some time ago, and now are pushing them to add the magnetic srip with your fingerprint and other info on it. I did read somewhere that there are 14 or 15 states that do have exemptions for religions on the requirement of a photo. Once again, couldn't find a list of the states. Maybe someone with better Google-foo will have better luck.
posted by Orb at 4:18 PM on June 7, 2003


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