Culture

Burqas in Driver's License Photos Raise Questions

An International Business Times story from earlier this month has been lurking in my newsfeed. It reports on the state of Illinois allowing Muslims to wear face-concealing burqas in driver’s license photos.

My initial reaction was probably the same as most readers. Concealing one’s face on a document of identification proves absurd. No sensible agency should allow it.

Then again, when all things are considered, there’s more to the issue than that simple question of function. The number of things you can’t legally do without a government-issued ID are legion, to the point where you basically can’t legally exist without an ID. In that context, it could be argued that requiring people to violate their religious conviction to obtain ID effectively bans their religious expression.

Another way to look at it: your choice of religious expression should not create a burden for others. The Amish choice to forsake modern technology places no burden upon the rest of us to do the same. Should the Muslim choice to conceal the face require the rest of society to suspend its rules?