There has been much debate about whether a Muslim woman should be allowed to wear a face-covering hijab in driver’s license photos, or if she should be required to remove her religious garb for identification purposes. Not surprisingly, the ACLU has sided with Islam, saying that requiring women to reveal their faces in state-issued ID is "counter to religious freedom."
As part of the Islamic religious tradition, women are required to wear black burkas, which cover their whole bodies from head-to-toe, and include a hijab, which covers their faces except for thin sliver for their eyes to look through.
I may not agree with the notion that women must cover up to protect themselves from males with wandering eyes, but to each their own. However, I don’t think that Muslims should be exempt when it comes to identification for lawful purposes, like showing ID to purchase alcohol.
Canada’s Sun News host David Menzies recently coordinated a sting in which he sent a fourteen-year-old boy into three different Toronto liquor stores to purchase alcohol … while wearing a full burka and hijab. The teen was never asked to remove his headgear, or even to present some form of identification. He paid cash for his purchases, and at the end of the day handed over three unopened bottles of booze.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) claims that this goes against its policy of viewing customers’ faces as part of the age-verification process, and that perhaps the employees were trying to be culturally sensitive. Other customers wearing face-covering helmets or masks have been asked to uncover their faces in other incidents.
Cultural sensitivity? Maybe they should have refused to sell alcohol to the Muslim because Islam forbids drinking spirits.
Seriously though, this is not cool. I’m all for freedom of religion expression, but as soon as it starts affecting safety protocols; some exceptions have to be made. Much like yelling, “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there isn’t one isn’t protected under free speech, wearing a hijab when purchasing alcohol shouldn’t be protected under freedom of religion.
Muslims shouldn’t be forbidden from wearing religious clothing … but they shouldn’t be immune from identification laws either.
Image via -luz-/Flickr