Hairline Headline -- New Rule for DC DMV

Apology, accommodation for female Muslim drivers

By Barbara Harrison
|  Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010  |  Updated 3:45 PM EDT
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Hairline Headline -- New Rule for DC DMV

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A victory today for female Muslim drivers in the District of Columbia.

The city’s Department of Motor Vehicles has modified its policy on driver’s license photos after complaints of discrimination from Muslim women who wear the religious scarf called the hijab, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said. Until now, the rule for license photographs in D.C. called for showing the “full face including the hairline.”

DMV personnel interpreted that description to include hair. Muslim women were turned away without licenses when they refused to uncover their hair.

CAIR contacted DMV Director Lucinda Babers and requested the change in policy. The response issued today allows the hijab.

Babers also apologized for the misunderstanding. The rule will now require that the photo show the driver’s full face “up to the hairline without exposing the hair.”

The manager of the Civil Rights division of CAIR thanked the D.C. DMV for a quick response to the request. According to the council’s most recent review, 42 out of the 50 U.S. states have already adopted more inclusive and accommodating policies toward religious practices.

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