Good News: CAIR-Chicago Secures Religious Accommodations at DMV

CAIR-Chicago is happy to announce that the state of Illinois has reaffirmed the right of American-Muslims to wear their hijabs and kufis in government ID photos. Over the past several years, CAIR-Chicago and other civil rights groups received reports from American-Muslims, as well as American-Sikhs, about being asked to remove or change their religious head coverings in order to take photos that were necessary for obtaining driver’s licenses or state IDs in Illinois.

After receiving complaints from community members who were not receiving religious accommodations for their driver’s license photos, CAIR-Chicago partnered with SAAPRI, SALDEF, and MALDEF in working with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office to improve educational materials on religious accommodations for both Illinois Secretary of State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employees and members of the public.

READ: VICTORY: Sikhs In Illinois Can Continue to Wear Turbans on IDs (SALDEF)

“Reasonable religious accommodation is a civil right for all Americans. After receiving complaints from Muslims and Sikhs who were feeling the brunt of the lack of clear policy due to some DMV workers asking them to remove their religious headgear for ID photos, CAIR-Chicago led a year-long effort along with our valuable partners to uphold the civil right of our community members to practice their faith freely. We are thankful for the Office of the Secretary of State of Illinois’s cooperation in taking the necessary steps to ensure that its own policies are clear to both its workers and the public.”

– Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago

After more than a year of work, the Office of the Secretary of State of Illinois released a poster and handout on religious accommodation of American-Muslims and American-Sikhs, which is being sent to every office in the state and is also publicly available. The handout is meant to ensure DMV employees know that Muslims and others must be permitted to take official photos while wearing their religious head garbs as per federal law.

CAIR-Chicago staff members Fatima Ahmed and Gerald Hankerson graciously volunteered as models demonstrating sample religious headwear for members of the Muslim faith.


“We are grateful that we were able to remedy the denials of religious accommodations in partnership with both community groups and the Illinois Secretary of State’s office,” said CAIR-Chicago’s staff attorney Rabya Khan. “We plan to continue to work together to improve training on religious accommodations with DMV employees.”

Should community members experience any issues with receiving a religious accommodation at a DMV facility, please contact CAIR-Chicago’s civil rights department.

Read an article about the effort on