Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I need to what?

So alhumdulillah I've gotten so much done this morning, I took a half day off from work and went to the chiropractor- my back was so tight it barely moved- and then I went to the DMV to renew my license and to hopefully get a new passport. InshAllah I'll be 25 next month (egads!) and my license expires, I wish I could keep my picture from when I turned 21 (Hottie McSteam) but alas I could not, nor would I want to since me now= hijab and me then= none.

I renewed a month early because I wanted to, at the same time, apply for a new passport because I look very little like I did when I was 18 and took the picture, and also again because of the hijab.

And my hijab is the reason I left the DMV without a new passport but with a brand new chip on my shoulder. Apparently if I would like to keep my headscarf on in the picture for my passport I must write a sweet little letter to the passport authorities on why I'm wearing it.

Excuse me?

If an Indian woman comes in with a bindi in the middle of her forehead and a massively huge gold nose ring, do you ask her to write a letter? If a punk rocker comes in with bright green hair and 15 facial piercings, is she asked to remove them? Or write a letter stating her anarchist belief system?

What the #&^$ does it have to do with you OR the passport authorities OR the US government whether I wear this headscarf for religious or purely fashionable reasons?

What do they expect me to write?

Dear US Government,

I wear this scarf around my head because I'm a terroristic extremist who will stop at nothing to see the pigs of the kuffar goverment fall to their knees.


PS- I know where Osama is.


I am an American who was born in a country where state should be completely separated from religion, and where my choice to cover my head DEALS DIRECTLY WITH ME AND MY PERSONAL CHOICE.

If I want to shave my head and tattoo it completely, do I have to write a letter in with my passport stating why?

Do Menonite or Amish women have the same problem?

Or is this hand-written permission from me for them to delay my passport process and mark me, once and for all in their big book of no-no, a danger to my society?


I walked out with my old passport, which is current through 2011, and left that idea behind.

And I wonder why it is that America is looking less and less American each day.


Yusuf Smith said...

As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

I don't think Amish women (or men, for that matter) drive anything faster than a horse and cart, so the issue wouldn't come up. Not sure about the Mennonites.

Have you got onto CAIR? They've had some success getting hijabis driving licenses.

Molly said...

Actually you're right with the
Amish and driving, but now you do need a passport to get into and out of Canada from America, so I can imagine that even Amish who want to visit their cousins need a passport. But beyond that, what about Mennonites? They wear scarves as well, and drive too.

But alhumdulillah the state of Minnesota does not object to headscarves in driver's licenses, I was able to get that pic taken and the license updated. My friend told me they used to have to write in a letter in Wisconsin to be allowed.

I think I might have dropped dead of indignation if they had given me a problem about my dl.


Amie said...

I think that there is some inconsistency with policy here. (Taken from http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_830.html )
4. Provide Two Passport Photos
* Taken in normal street attire
o Uniforms should not be worn in photographs except religious attire that is worn daily.
o Do not wear a hat or headgear that obscures the hair or hairline.

It talks about religious attire worn daily, but no "headgear" (I hate that term...meh). I'm thinking yeah, that's a definite contradiction. Retards.
But it does say religious attire worn daily, which would be your hijab. I think you should print off the policies and shove them in their face. Obviously they don't understand the rules that they are meant to enforce.

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Sis:

I would call CAIR as Yusuf Smith suggested.

I got both my driver's license and my passport with me in hijab. I was not asked to write any such letter. ???

I have heard that our niqaabi sisters have problems. May Allah (swt) grant them patience and reward/Ameen.

Vanessa Fatima said...

oh wow, that's soooo annoying and ridiculous.

:-/ America is definitely changing...

Mama Kalila said...

I am so sorry! That stinks... I'd be upset too. I hope everything works out with that.

alajnabiya said...

Assalaamu 'alaikum,

Actually, that isn't a new policy. I had to submit a written statement that the scarf I wore was for religious reasons and worn daily to get my first passport in 1985. CAIR has a simple form letter you can fill out. They just need a piece of paper to add to the paperwork to explain the exemption.

A few years ago, my daughters and I got really harassed by the American Consulate staff in Jerusalem when we tried to renew our passports. They were trying to insist that the girls couldn't wear their scarves. I wrote the State Department, CAIR, the ACLU, the Arab American Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) and several other American Embassies in Arab countries to see if this was a new policy, and found that someone at the Jerusalem consulate was just pushing their own agenda. the ADC wrote them a few letters, and it was straightened out, although they do ask that the scarf be pulled back just to the hair line. Here is an article on the ADC site about it.

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Sis:

I did my entire passport application by mail. I mailed the photos of me with hijab along with everything else they requested.

I didn't know it could be done at the DMV. Could that be the problem?

gulnari said...

How irritating and wanky! I hope it gets sorted out for you. Here in Canada no one is allowed to smile in passport pics. Eff that too!

Hottie McSteam? ;) roowwwrrr!

You're 25? So this means we were born on the same year. That's pretty cool.

alajnabiya said...

I uploaded a copy of the form from CAIR here. It's a Word Document.

UmmAbdurRahman said...

I recently got my passport and if you read the fine print in the directions they say that you cannot wear anything on your head ie headgear UNLESS it is worn daily for religious purposes. This can be important for some religious head coverings that are also worn by some as fashion. The directions state that IF you wear this daily for religious purposes please let us know. I wrote a generic letter stating my name "I wear the headscarf daily as part of my religious beliefs." I had my signature notarized at the bank.

Some may recognize hijab as a religious obligation and may not put their food down requiring the letter. There are others who are total sticklers for rules.

I just don't see what the big deal is in writing a simple letter. I had people ask me to take it off for my passport photos, but this was an old lady at kinkos. A govt worker didn't ask me that when I went to the county govt center. I guess it just depends on who you happen to get.

Molly said...

Amie- actually that totally cooled my temper, because I can see that if they may consider it like the boys who never want to take off their baseball caps.

Umm-abdurahman- welcome back dearest!!! You must tell me how your trip was. :)

Its not writing the letter in terms of the work to write it, it is the principle in my mind behind it. I thought of this as something that had recently- like since 9/11- popped up, but apprently it is not. So I guess while I'm still not going to do it right now at this moment, when I go to renew my passport once it really is expired, I will write the required letter and get over it.

Although if I can figure out where Safiyyah got her passport, I might go there.

Safiyyah- they didn't give you any trouble with your mail-in? Maybe I should just do that. I don't know.

Alajnabiya- thank you very much for all the info, and for telling me that this is not a new requirement. Here I was thinking it was because I was at the DMV in white racist yuppie-ville. Thank you.

Gulnarita- do you know if hijabis are asked to write a letter with their passport app in Canuckland? I think its a lot of countries that don't allow ppl to smile in their passport pics. I think thats crap as well, but offends me less than having to mail in a letter.

You's a baby of 83 as well? what month? :D

VF and Mama K- thanks you guys.

UmmLayla said...

Well, I have not crossed that bridge yet. I kept mine w/o hijab because were poor last time we traveled. I did have pictures taken as part of my DH's immigration thing... And I remember that they had me take one from the side showing my ear? Something about the ear being unique and good for ID? But passports... I guess I will find out since mine is expired and I am getting a new one soon, insha'Allah.

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Sis:

I live in Pennsylvania. I went to either the post office or passport agency, can't remember which, to get the form. I took it home and filled everything out. Then I went back, they looked everything over, and then they submitted it. Believe it or not, I received my passport in less than 2 weeks. I couldn't believe it. And this was AFTER 9/11!!! Somewhere around 2003. I wasn't renewing, it was my first passport.

Maybe things have changed?

All my picture IDs are with me in hijab. I only had trouble once. I went to renew my picture ID at the DMV and the guy there said, "Do you have to wear that?" pointing to my hijab. I reported him to CAIR and they took care of it. All the DMV employees in Harrisburg, PA, had to take a cultural sensitivity training, lol.

Safiyyah said...

Salaams All: I think you're right Umm Abdur-Rahman: probably depends who you get. Some, like the little old lady at Kinkos, are not real culturally aware. But I think most people mean well, and Insha Allah, they learn by being more and more exposed to Muslims.

Maybe that's why I didn't have trouble with mine. But I will be ready with the letter for renewal!

janene said...

The letter requiring you to mention religious beliefs to justify wearing a headcover is ridiculous. Of what benefit is it to the authorities to know your religioius beliefs...um, yeah I think I know the answer to that question.

I guess they want a picture of you in your natural state, and some maintain that hair is a distinguishing feature and could be helpful in establishing identity. Not only that, but if the headcover is pulled far enough over your head (past your hairline) the dimensions of your face seem to change (the edges of your face are not clear -- your face may appear smaller or you may look younger). Still, though, there are so many other, mnore useful markers that could be referred to when establishing if you are who you really are.

janene said...

btw, in Canada no letter is required if you wear hijab.

However the hijab must be at the hairline when taking the photograph.

The rules are VERY STRICT about what is and what is not allowed for passport photos in Canada, it is almost funny. Getting proper pictures of my three kids was a nightmare.

Hijabi Apprentice said...

Salaams! Muslimahlocs recently blogged on this same subject. I had to submit a letter with my passport photos too. It was a little annoying but not a big deal for me. Now with the driver's license I had no problem at all getting a license in 2 different states with hijab.

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

I applied for a passport roughly 11 years ago at the same time one of my friends did. We're both hijabis and both applied via the post office. Now, she got a letter back saying that her passport wasn't going to be processed because her hair was covered in the picture and she needed to specify if this was for religious beliefs...blah, blah. Mine went right through. My friend is African American with a typical western sounding, non-"ethnic" name. I have a weirdo sounding foreign name which I think sealed the deal. I just oooze "muslim-ness" I guess:-)

Mona said...

So odd with the differing protocols. It's not like people can't just change their hair, it's not a very defining feature.

Hey, I've never been to a chiropractor...is it cool? I have a fascination with this. Do they crack your back? I love cracking my back.

gulnari said...


I think Janene answered that qvestion. But no.. I've never heard of any hijabi having to write a silly letter here in Canada.

In the info letter that comes with the passport application it says this (among many other guidelines for photos):

"Hats or head coverings are not permitted except when worn for religious reasons and only if the full facial features are clearly visible"

I'm upset about the smiling thing because because I want to look as cheesy as possible. They're denying my right to creepy smiles. :(