ACLU: Christian woman forced to remove headscarf for license

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A Christian woman in Alabama was forced to remove her headscarf for a driver’s license photo after being told only Muslim women could wear them in photos, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama on her behalf.

Yvonne Allen of Tuskegee said in the lawsuit that when she went to renew her license in December, she was directed to remove the headscarf she wears in accordance with her religious beliefs. She said the clerk insisted that only Muslim women were allowed to cover their hair in the photos.

The lawsuit filed in federal court named Lee County Probate Judge Bill English and clerk Becky Frayer as defendants.


The lawsuit asks that Allen be allowed to take a new license photograph with her head covered.

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‘‘The government cannot discriminate between faiths in granting religious accommodations,’’ said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama.

The state in 2004 — responding to complaints from Muslims and Sikhs — did away with a policy that prohibited the wearing of headscarves and turbans in driver’s license photos.

The new policy said that head coverings and headgear are acceptable for religious beliefs and medical conditions, but for no other reason. The person’s face must be visible in the photo.

Associated Press