The Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has completed a survey (PDF) of state laws regarding driver's licenses and religious attire. The information was obtained by filing Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests or by writing to the government agencies in each state responsible for driver's licenses.
The survey covers the issue of whether people are permitted to wear headgear in driver's license photos, if exemptions are permitted as religious accommodation, if non-photo driver's licenses are available, and how face veils are handled.
As the report notes, and as I've noted previously in this space, this is not a question that solely affects Muslims. Many Jewish men wear yarmulkes; Sikh men wear turbans. Jewish and Christian women may wear religiously-prescribed headcoverings. Additionally, a number of Christian groups (especially the Amish) have religious prohibitions against the taking of photographs. Most of the case law on driver's license photos in fact has to do with Amish or other Christian groups who don't want photos to be taken at all.
On the specific issue of face veils, three states have what I consider the most reasonable policy, allowing face veiled women to get a non-photo driver's license. These states are Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. As the survey notes, these states have large populations of Amish and other groups like the related Mennonites who have religious objections to all photos; that appears to be why they're so accommodating. My own state, Washington, allows photos in which the person has their face veiled, but then a notation is put on the license that it doesn't serve as ID. My position is, and always has been, that a face-veiled woman should be able to obtain a non-photo license as long as she is qualified to drive, and that she should obtain a separate photo ID for times when her identity needs to be verified. In a situation where it's only her authorization to drive that's at issue and not her identity, she doesn't have to display the photo unnecessarily.
Anyway, the survey is a very good overview of the law in the different states and should be a good reference for those interested in this topic.
Added: The survey led to a news story from Kentucky about its driver's license laws.
I'm tracking this one since it's local. Originally published in the Seattle P-I
Friday, November 19, 2004
14 arrested in raids by terror task force
Seattle suspects' links to al-Qaida or other groups are uncertain
By PAUL SHUKOVSKY
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Back in February, I posted on the trial of Numan Maflahi, a curious case involving Yemeni charities alleged to be funding terrorism. Now comes a curious story related to that case. Originally published in Newsday
Informant who set himself on fire figured in at least three terror probes
By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN
Associated Press Writer
November 17, 2004, 6:55 PM EST
Here's more on Ryan Anderson. Originally published by a British newspaper, The Guardian
Accused Guardsman Faces Court Martial
Monday August 30, 2004 12:01 PM
By MELANTHIA MITCHELL
Associated Press Writer
One of the issues I was following for Solidarity USA was the prosecutions of Muslim charity organizations. Here's some news on this front. Originally published by the Chicago Tribune
Posted on Mon, Aug. 23, 2004
Panel's report raises questions about shutdown of Islamic charities
BY LAURIE COHEN
Here's a news story related to the question of Muslim marriage contracts and how they are or are not upheld under American law, which is discussed in the Muslim marriage contracts category of the blog. You may wish to read the other entries in the category for more legal background and perspectives on this issue. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Will County judge OKs dowry pledged in Muslim law
June 20, 2004
BY DAVE NEWBART Staff Reporter