Apology to young Muslim woman instructed to remove headscarf for driver’s licence photo

Getting her driver’s license should have been an exciting rite of passage for a Sussex County teenager, her mother said.

But when Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles workers told the 16-year-old girl to remove her Muslim headscarf – despite an agency policy allowing her to wear it in her license picture – the experience ended in tears and embarrassment.

“It’s a crying shame that a piece of fabric on her head could cause such an uproar,” said the mother, who asked not to be identified to avoid further public attention.

The girl eventually left the DMV with a driver’s license, she said, but the picture showed her visibly upset and crying.

DMV Director Jennifer Cohan said the agency will remind its workers of its policy on religious and cultural issues. Muslim women may wear headscarves that do not cover their faces for their photos, she said.

“We called her and apologized profusely,” Cohan said. “This could have been handled with a little more sensitivity on our part.”

News Journal, 14 April 2010