An Inclusive Litany

1/8/02

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is demanding that Northwest Airlines apologize for allegedly forcing a Muslim high school student to remove her head scarf at an airport security checkpoint, an action the group characterizes as equivalent to a public strip search and a violation of her religious beliefs. As a sign of modesty, unmarried Muslim women are not supposed to show their heads to men outside their families.

And in Florida, a Muslim woman sued the state for suspending her driver's license after she refused to remove her full-face veil for her photograph. Prior to the September 11 attacks, Florida had allowed the woman a driver's license photo that showed only her eyes, even though state law requires a "full-face photograph." But civil rights lawyer Howard Marks said the law is vague. He cited another presumably less vague Florida law stating that the "government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion." CAIR is championing the cause of another Muslim woman in Florida who also doesn't want her face on her license.

[Ed.: In a letter to the Boston Globe, An orthodox Jewish man wrote that when going through airport security, his wife simply asks to be examined in a private room by a female security officer, a commonsense request airlines have had no problem accommodating. As for the Florida woman, may I suggest another simple alternative? Since there's also a Muslim law requiring women to be accompanied in public by male family members, why doesn't he drive? At least he'll have more than a slit of fabric through which to see the road! And in a somewhat related matter, a University of Manitoba political science professor fought a $40 traffic ticket by questioning the very constitutionality of stop signs, claiming they are "vague."]

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