Two Muslim women had the right to continue wearing their head scarves when sitting for a driver's license photo, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles said.
Clerks at separate bureau offices in southwest Ohio were wrong to insist that the women remove the scarves, also known as hijabs, which are expressions of faith and modesty, said Tom Hunter, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the motor vehicles bureau.
The bureau's offices in Loveland and Mason retook the photos for free.
"It was just a misunderstanding on the part of BMV employees as to what the policy was," Hunter said. "We want to be respectful to all people and all cultures."
No one was disciplined, Hunter said, but an e-mail was sent to the state's 216 registrar offices in May reminding employees that head coverings, such as hijabs, are allowed.
People sitting for driver's license photographs can't wear head coverings, according to Ohio policy. But there are exceptions for wigs or hairpieces that a person customarily wears, along with headwear for religious reasons and medical treatments. However, nothing can cover a person's face.
"I wear it for religious beliefs," said Mariam Bashir, 33, of Mason, who said she was one of the women asked to remove her head scarf when she went to renew her driver's license at the BMV office in Loveland.
Not wanting to cause trouble, Bashir said she complied.
"People don't understand and I don't blame them," said Bashir, who moved to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1999. "But the people at the BMV should know, the law does allow for it."
Asking a Muslim woman to remove her head scarf is akin to asking her to remove her shirt, said Karen Dabdoub, the executive director of the Cincinnati office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Dabdoub said the women shouldn't have been subjected to such embarrassment.
"I'm sure this has happened many times before," Dabdoub. The state deserves credit for quickly correcting the problem, she said.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Temmuz 2007, 17:30