National Civil Rights Organizations Voice Concern Over Absence of Religious Freedom Protection Under PASS ID Act

An interfaith group of civil rights and community organizations representing millions of constituents throughout the United States wrote to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today requesting amendments to the PASS ID Act of 2009 in order to protect the right of individuals to wear religious headcoverings in driver's license and other identification photographs.

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(following) in the footsteps of France, where religious headcoverings are strictly banned in identification photographs, and where religious minorities consequently find themselves in a state of socio-economic paralysis.

Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) September 4, 2009

Yesterday, an interfaith group of civil rights and community organizations representing millions of constituents throughout the United States wrote to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today requesting amendments to the PASS ID Act of 2009 in order to protect the right of individuals to wear religious headcoverings in driver's license and other identification photographs.

In a letter addressed to Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins--Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs--sixteen (16) organizations expressed concerns about the possibility that observant Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs throughout the United States could be forced to remove religious headcoverings as a condition to receiving driver's license and other identification photographs--documents which are often essential for economic transactions and travel.

The interfaith letter acknowledged the need for individuals to expose their faces in identification photographs but asserted that Jewish yarmulkes, Sikh turbans, and Muslim hijabs should not have to be removed.

Noting that religious minorities have faced headcovering bans in Oklahoma and Minnesota during the past year, the interfaith organizations cautioned against "(following) in the footsteps of France, where religious headcoverings are strictly banned in identification photographs, and where religious minorities consequently find themselves in a state of socio-economic paralysis."

The organizations that issued the letter are the American Islamic Congress; American Islamic Forum for Democracy; American Jewish Committee; Anti-Defamation League; Asian American Justice Center; Asian Law Caucus; Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Bill of Rights Defense Committee; Counselors Helping (South) Asians/Indians; Discrimination and National Security Initiative; Interfaith Alliance; Michigan Asian Indian Family Services; Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Sikh Coalition; South Asian Americans Leading Together; and United Sikhs.

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