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CAIR-Chicago Files Complaint Against Illinois Secretary of State Over Religious Head Coverings in Photos for IDs, Driver’s License

(CHICAGO, IL, 8/26/2019) — The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today filed a complaint in federal court against the Illinois Secretary of State’s (SOS) office and Secretary Jesse White to address language in an official form stating that when an individual has his or her picture taken at a SOS facility while wearing a kufi (religious skullcap) or hijab (religious head covering), they may not remove their religious headwear in public or else they risk having their driver’s license or ID cancelled.

Specifically, the form states:

“In observation of my religious convictions, I only remove my head dressing in public when removal is necessary (such as for a medical examination or a visit to a hair dresser or barber). I do not remove the head dressing in public as a matter of courtesy or protocol (such as when entering a professional office or attending a worship service). I acknowledge that if the Director of the Driver Services Department is provided with evidence showing I do not wear a religious head dressing at all times while in public, unless circumstances require the removal of the head dressing, my driver’s license or identification card may be canceled.”

CAIR-Chicago’s lawsuit seeks to prohibit the continued use of the form by the Secretary of State since such matters are to be reserved for the religious beliefs of each individual applicant. The form violates the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the First Amendment (through Section 1983), which prohibits religious discrimination by governmental agencies. CAIR-Chicago’s client, who wears a hijab, was forced to sign the form, or she would have been denied a license.

“The State should not be in the position of forcing people to choose between acquiring a necessary form of ID or a needed driver’s license and the free practice of their religion,” said Phil Robertson, Litigation Director for CAIR-Chicago. “There are a host of instances in which religious headwear may need to be removed while in public, and people should not be concerned that doing so will jeopardize their future ability to drive. With the upcoming Labor Day Weekend, the least our clients should have to worry about is their licenses being voided.”

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.


CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166, arehab@cair.comCAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator Saadia Pervaiz, 312-212-1520, spervaiz@cair.comCAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator Hannah Faris, 312-212-1520,


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