A Minnesota state representative from St. Cloud was, I think, trying to help out the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. The MCPA is concerned about driver's licenses showing facial features. I think that's a reasonable concern.
The problem is, when the bill got drawn up, there was an exception for people who needed to cover their heads for medical reasons - but not for people who wore things for religious reasons.
That's when the trouble started. Some Minnesotans are Muslims, and they smelled bias, and didn't want flawed legislation to pass. They raised a stink, got the representative's attention, and after some give-and-take, the bill is moving through the mangle - with an exception for religiously-mandated headgear.
I'm rather glad of that: next time, someone may (accidentally or not) try to outlaw rosaries. That's not as crazy as it sounds: keep reading.
But They're Muslims! They Wear Hijabs!I discussed hijabs, faces, and identification in another blog. As these photos show, quite a few Muslimas don't have the tube-top-and-thong fashion sense that many American women display. Not being able to see most of a woman's skin takes a little getting used to, but I think the rest of us can adapt.
As far as the practical matter of identifying individuals goes, I don't see an insurmountable obstacle. Over the last half-century or so, I've noticed that people's eyes are just as distinctive as the rest of our faces.
Anyway, that lavender number was the only nose-covering hijab I found on The Hijab Shop's website. Most looked something like the one on the right, but there's quite a range of style.
Dealing with Those PeopleI'll be polite, and say that some Minnesota state employees are very cautious. There's a bit of a harangue about a clerk, a supervisor, and the supervisor's supervisor, in that other blog post.
Religious Minorities: We're Not Really That DangerousSometimes, we look different.
Right now, I'm wearing a chaplet. It's a crucifix, a little over an inch tall, on a knotted cord. Later this evening, I'll be saying a sequence of prayers, using the knots to help me keep track of where I am in the series. It's something I'm doing for Lent.
Some people might think, particularly if I were a teenager, that I'm a gang member. An Oregon principal made the national news after banning rosaries. Because they're supposed to be gang symbols. The mother of two Catholic (and Hispanic) students was peeved about that. Can't say that I blame her.
Okay, so sometimes we look different. That doesn't make us dangerous.
- "Minnesota Hijab Driver's License Ban SNAFU Fixed For Now"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 6, 2009)
- "The Rosary is a Gang Symbol: Who Knew?"
(September 16, 2008)
- "Of Bias, Veils, and Crucifixes"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 25, 2008)
- "I'm With the Devout Muslims on This One"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (September 19, 2007)
- "Gottwalt revises driver's license identification bill"
St. Cloud Times (March 6, 2009)
- "Dispute over hijabs on driver's licenses resolved"
KARE (March 6, 2009)