A new case in which a woman was asked to remove her headscarf in public has once again called the boundaries of religious accommodation into question.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Alabama filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama n behalf of a Christian woman from Tuskegee whop was forced to remove her headscarf to take a photo for her driver license.
Yvonne Allen, who wears a headscarf not because she is a practicing Muslim but because she believes her Christian faith requires her to keep her hair covered in public, was forced to remove her headscarf by Lee County officials when she went to have her driver license renewed.
When Allen visited the Lee County office to renew her expired license, the staff fought Allen on the subject, arguing that only Muslim women could wear a headscarf, a press release from the ACLU stated.
“I was devastated when they forced me to remove my headscarf to take my driver license photo,” Allen stated in the release. “Revealing my hair to others is disobedient to God. I should the same right as people of other faiths to be accommodated for my religious beliefs.”
According to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, religious accommodation can be made for headwear and they can be worn in license photos so long as the face is not covered.
The ACLU of Alabama’s Executive Director Susan Watson stated that Allen’s rights were violated under the First Amendment.
“The country’s interpretation of state rules blatantly violates the First Amendment,” Watson said in the release. “The government cannot discriminate between faiths in granting religious accommodations.”
In light of recent complaints and lawsuits following Muslim women being asked to remove headscarves, this case challenges a belief that only Muslim women should keep hair covered. Other faiths, such as Orthodox Judaism and some Christian denominations, have required women to cover their hair – either in public or for religious ceremony.
Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project Lenora Lapidus stated: “For many women like Ms. Allen, headscarves are a religious obligation, and wearing them imposes no harm on others.”