Two suburban Cincinnati Muslim women were wrongly asked to remove head scarves before their driver’s license photos were taken.

When made aware of the gaffe in late May, the Ohio Department of Public Safety sent an e-mail to the state’s 216 registrar offices reminding them that head coverings worn for religious and medical reasons are allowed in such photos – though nothing can cover a person’s facial features.

The registrar’s offices in Loveland and Mason, where the forced removal happened, retook the photos for free.

Some Muslim women wear head coverings, also known as hijabs, as expressions of their faith and modesty. Asking a Muslim woman to remove her head scarf is akin to asking her to remove her shirt, said Karen Dabdoub, the executive director of the Cincinnati office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which revealed the incidents this week.

Dabdoub contacted the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles on the women’s behalf May 29 after Mariam Bashir told her in passing she was forced to take her driver’s license photo without a head scarf, not realizing the forced removal violated state regulations.

“I’m sure this has happened many times before,” Dabdoub said.


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