Christian Woman Asked to Remove Headscarf for Driver’s License Photo

Woman quotes book of Corinthians to defend her right to have her head covered.

Even as the incidents of Muslim women being told to remove their headscarves is on the rise and the Muslim community is actively engaged in fighting for their rights, a very unusual case manifested at Montgomery, Alabama when a Christian woman insisted that she be allowed to wear her scarf at a driving license office. The woman, identified as Yvonne Allen insisted that covering her head in public was an act of “obedience to God” when told to remove her headscarf.

A lawsuit has been filed against the license officials by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Montgomery. According to the lawsuit, officials had violated Allen’s religious freedom by insisting on her removing her scarf even when she said she would not. Recounting the incident, Allen says she was devastated when they asked to her remove her scarf. She went on to claim that revealing her hair to others would be an act of disobedience to God and that she deserved the same rights as people of other faiths.

The license office is reported to have told her that only Muslim women are allowed to cover their heads for photos. However, the office policy states that the head can be covered “only for religious or medical reasons.” As such, the lawsuit demands to know why Allen’s religious reason was not considered by the office. Allen said that as she felt there was no choice but to comply, she removed her scarf.

An office spokesperson said that Allen’s reasons were invalid as she (the spokesperson) herself is a Christian and yet, doesn’t cover her head.

Allen quotes a verse from the first letter by Saint Paul to the Corinthians which exhorts Christian women to cover their heads. She says that she has obeyed this commandment every single day and feels guilty about having removed her scarf at the office. She also alleges that officials behaved with her in a very “humiliating and demeaning” manner and spoke to her in a “condescending” tone saying that Christian women don’t cover their heads.

The ACLU has otherwise been traditional opponents of religious communities that curb rights due to religious dogmas. Earlier, it has filed cases against Catholic hospitals for refusing to conduct abortions and sterilizations. As such their support of Allen comes as surprise to everyone. The ACLU says that they support Allen because this is clearly a case of discrimination and violation of Allen’s personal freedom. 

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