(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 4/7/09) – The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) today commended state senators for dismissing a controversial bill (HB 1645) that would have prohibited Islamic head scarves, or hijabs, on driver’s licenses photographs and photo IDs.
For background, see: Oklahoma Muslims Asked to Challenge Anti-Hijab Legislation
The State Senate Sub-Committee on Transportation dropped the bill last week after recognizing it did not have the backing of constituents who believed it violated First Amendment rights. The Senate Judiciary Committee also dropped the bill after realizing that the Department of Public Safety currently has a policy that allows for religious exemptions on driver’s licenses photographs. Federal and military IDs also allow a religious exemption.
SEE: CAIR-OK: Religious Headcovering Bill (Video)
“We thank Oklahoma lawmakers for their leadership and courage in standing up for religious pluralism and the First Amendment. We appreciate their recognition of the contributions that all faiths make to the great state of Oklahoma and we look forward to continuing to work together for all Oklahomans,” said CAIR-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi. He added that some 600 letters opposing the draft legislation were sent to lawmakers by Oklahomans of all faiths.
Hashmi said many people believe the bill was introduced in reaction to CAIR-OK’s successful resolution of a dispute over a Muslim woman’s right to wear hijab in her driver’s license photo.
SEE: Muslim Woman Takes Driver’s Photo with Head Scarf (Video)
According to a 2004 CAIR review, most states – with the exception of Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire – have addressed religious accommodation concerns. Five states – Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, Missouri, and Maine – recognize some religious practices, while the other 42 states have adopted more inclusive approaches to religious accommodation policies.
SEE: Religious Accommodation in Driver’s License Photographs
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 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.
CONTACT: CAIR-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi, 405-248-5853, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR-OK Chairperson Lobna Hewedi, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-OK Operations Coordinator Tariq Ahmad, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com