Holmes: ‘I will not comply’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

Holmes, who is part of the Selma Islamic Center, said she fully understands why the state would want to have the face exposed in the picture, and she does not object to having the picture taken without the face scarf.

But to ask her to remove her head scarf, which is always worn outside the home, is a violation of her religious principles &045;and of the Qur’an&045;Islam’s sacred scriptures. And, she added, the picture would not depict here as she would appear while driving a car.

Holmes recalls that the last time she had her picture taken for her driver’s license, she was asked if she always wore the head scarf. When she replied yes, there was no objection, she said.

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The Associated Press story reported that 10 Muslim women from Mobile and Birmingham had complained to the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, which in turn wrote to Alabama Public Safety Director Mike Coppage asking that the state end its requirement for women not to wear their head scarf, or hijab, when having the driver’s license picture taken.

A department spokeswoman said officials were reviewing the matter, according to The Associated Press.

The scarves under discussion in Alabama cover the hair, ears and neck, but not the face.

La Tonya Floyd of Mobile, one of the complainants, said that the requirement is apparently not being enforced consistently. She related that another Muslim woman, when applying for a license, was simply asked to step into a room where a female employee verified the hair color that she put on her license application was correct.

When the state office of the Department of Public Safety was contacted regarding the matter, spokeswoman Dorris Teague stated that the prohibition on head coverings is indeed the current regulation and that the original order Driver License Policy Order No. 64 was effective March 25, 2003. The policy was recently reiterated in a memo sent out to all driver’s license offices, she said.

A news release from the Department of Public service dated Jan. 15, 2004, stated:

The policy states: