CAIR lawsuit challenges Illinois driver's license rule on head coverings

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Muslim civil rights group says an Illinois driver's license rule violates religious rights.

The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a federal lawsuit Monday challenging the rule that requires anyone wearing a religious head covering while taking a driver's license photo to sign a form saying they may lose their license if they're later seen in public not wearing it.

"That's an extremely personal decision. I don't think the law has anything to do with a person's decision like that," said Zain Abdullah.

Abdullah renewed her driver's license Tuesday and was told by the Secretary of State's office if she didn't sign the form she wouldn't get her license. The form is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by CAIR on behalf of a Rockford Muslim woman, Maryjane Bicksler, who felt pressured to sign the form last year.

CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab believes the rule is discriminatory and doesn't accommodate a variety of religious practices.

"We want this to result in treating all citizens who come to the DMV for an ID or license equally, that there are no special forms of treatment for anybody because of their religion," said Rehab.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is named as a defendant. White's office did not have a comment because it had not seen the lawsuit yet.

"A lot of things can happen to change one's appearance. Why only pick on people who are religious?" said Rehab.

CAIR Chicago said the Secretary of State religious head covering form is only about two years old. After receiving complaints last year, the Muslim group said it approached the Secretary of State's office to discontinue the form, but was told by the agency's legal department that the language in the form was legally sound.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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