Press Releases

CAIR Calls on Mississippi to Allow Islamic Head Covering in Driver’s License Photos

(WASHINGTON, DC, 10/26/18) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today sent a letter of concern to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (MS DPS), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division regarding a MS DPS policy requiring male American Muslims to remove their “kufi,” or religious head cap, in violation of sincerely-held religious beliefs.

[NOTE: A kufi is similar to a yarmulke, the skullcap worn by Jewish men.]

According to CAIR’s letter, MS DPS employees forced a Mississippi resident to remove his kufi to renew his driver’s license. Despite notifying DPS employees that the kufi was a religious head covering, DPS forced the Muslim customer to remove his kufi in violation of his sincerely-held religious belief. CAIR expressed concerned that the MS DPS policy is unconstitutional and needs to be adjusted to respect the religious rights of all Mississippians, including Muslim Mississippians. CAIR will continue to monitor the situation.  

SEE: Letter of Concern to Mississippi Department of Public Safety

“The Mississippi Department of Public Safety’s policy of forcing individuals to remove religious attire such as the kufi does not respect constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of religion that is the right of all Americans,” said CAIR Trial Attorney Ahmed Mohamed. “We will continue to monitor the situation and urge MS DPS to adopt policies consistent with the U.S. Constitution to respect the sincerely-held religious beliefs of Mississippians.”

CAIR has reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president.

The Washington-based organization’s recently-released 2018 Civil Rights Report, “Targeted,” showed a 17 percent increase in bias-motivated incidents against American Muslims from 2016 to 2017, and a 15 percent increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in that same time period.

Community members are being urged to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by going to:

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 248-390-9784,; CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425,; CAIR Trial Attorney Ahmed Mohamed, 202-742-6440,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,

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