(WATERBURY, CT, 3/31/05) – Representatives of the Connecticut office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CT) met yesterday with officials of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Connecticut Association of Affirmative Action Professionals (CTAAAP) to discuss issues related to religious accommodation. The meeting was prompted by an incident in which a Connecticut Muslim woman was initially denied the right to wear her Islamic headscarf in a driver’s license photograph.
After discussions between CAIR-CT and DMV officials, the woman was permitted to have her photograph taken with the religiously-mandated scarf. (Connecticut law permits religious head-coverings in driver’s license photos. The applicant must sign an oath attesting to the religious requirement.) Meeting participants agreed to work together to broaden understanding of Islamic practices and make Muslims feel more comfortable about reporting cases of religious discrimination. “We were very pleased by the cooperative attitude expressed by all those involved in the meeting,” said CAIR-CT Executive Director Badr Malik. “It is through this type of positive interaction that we may build bridges of understanding and mutual respect.”
Malik said CAIR-CT is planning religious sensitivity training workshops later this year with both the DMV and CTAAAP. CAIR-CT Director of Civil Rights Hamza Collins also took part in Wednesday’s meeting. Last year, CAIR issued a nationwide review of religious accommodation in requirements for driver’s license photographs. The report, titled “Religious Accommodation in Driver’s License Photographs: A Review of Codes, Policies and Practices in the 50 States,” was prompted by complaints from Muslim women drivers who faced difficulties wearing Islamic head scarves in license photographs.
The full report may be obtained at: http://www.cair-net.org/downloads/driversphoto.pdf CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. To read CAIR’s Mission, Vision Statement and Core Principles, go to: http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=About
CONTACT: CAIR-CT Director of Civil Rights Hamza Collins, 860-995-6628