Delaware DMV Apologizes to Muslim Over Hijab Incident

(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 4/13/10) –- The Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-PA) today thanked the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for its “prompt and appropriate action” in offering an apology to a Muslim driver in that state who was initially refused the right to take her driver’s license photograph wearing a religious head scarf, or hijab.

The Muslim driver was reportedly told that she had to remove her hijab because of “national security policy.” During the incident, another driver waiting in line for a photograph allegedly said “send them back to Afghanistan.” The 16-year-old driver, who is of Arab-American heritage, was so traumatized that she broke down in tears.

After being contacted by CAIR-PA, a top DMV official apologized to the Muslim driver and said staff at agency offices statewide have been reminded of existing policy allowing religious attire such as hijab. The Muslim driver will also be allowed to re-take her photograph, with hijab, free of charge at a different facility.

SEE: Delaware DMV offers apology for headscarf incident
State DMV apologizes for religious scarf incident
DE DMV apologizes for Muslim headscarf photo flap

“We thank the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles for its prompt and appropriate action in response to this incident and offer the Muslim community’s assistance in helping to re-train DMV staff on issues related to religious diversity,” said CAIR-PA Civil Rights Director Moein Khawaja.

Khawaja noted that Delaware DMV policy states: “A Muslim woman may wear a head scarf as long as it does not hide her facial features or interfere with the digital driver license facial recognition technology.”

SEE: Driver Services – Photo Procedures

According to a 2004 CAIR review, most states – with the exception of Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire – have addressed religious accommodation concerns. Five states – Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, Missouri, and Maine – recognize some religious practices, while the other 42 states have adopted more inclusive approaches to religious accommodation policies.

SEE: Religious Accommodation in Driver’s License Photographs (pdf)

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-PA Civil Rights Director Moein Khawaja, 267-515-6710, 217-638-7873, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:

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