DENVER (CBS4)– The Division of Motor Vehicles will no longer require Muslims, Sikhs or others to remove religious head coverings to get their driver’s license photos taken. This comes after complaints led to meetings between state and federal authorities. Clarifications were made and new procedures put in place.
In the Sikh religion removal of the turban in public is forbidden. But the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles was requiring that for driver’s license photos.
Dilpreet Jammu of the Colorado Sikh community told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger, “I immediately contacted the Department of Justice and let them know this incident had just happened in the DMV.”
The Sikh’s were not the only ones to complain. Amatullah Malki, a Muslim, was asked to put her head scarf behind her ears to have her driving learner’s permit photo taken.
“I came home and I felt really bad like,’Why are they making me do that? Why are they trying to take pieces away from me?’ This is my identity,” said Malki.
Her father Mohamed Malki couldn’t believe it, “No, not in America. I said you have to go back next day and challenge that.”
Regulations for driver’s license photos from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicate the face must be visible. But U.S. Attorney John Walsh said it wasn’t clear
“We were able to give them guidance that said you know what you don’t need to have people pull their ears out and these men who wear that turban to take it off,” said Walsh.
After discussions with the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Colorado Attorney General, the matter was ironed out.
Lynn Granger with the Department of Motor Vehicles described the changes, “It has to be from the chin to the top of forehead at the hairline and the ears do not have to be uncovered.”
She said customer service is important and they try to accommodate requests that are made.
Now Sikhs, Muslims and others no longer have to choose between a driver’s license photo and their following their religion. The clarifications made in Colorado may be used in other states as well.