Date: 06-06-03 14:34 PDT
JUDGE: WOMAN CAN'T WEAR VEIL IN ID PHOTO
By MIKE BRANOM, Associated Press Writer
Friday, June 6, 2003-
A Florida judge ruled Friday that a Muslim woman cannot wear
a veil in her driver's license photo, agreeing with state
authorities that the practice could help terrorists conceal
After hearing three days of testimony last week, Circuit
Judge Janet C. Thorpe ruled that Sultaana Freeman's right
to free exercise of religion would not be infringed by having
to show her face on her license.
Thorpe said the state "has a compelling interest in
protecting the public from criminal activities and security
threats," and "having access to photo image identification
is essential to promote that interest."
Assistant Attorney General Jason Vail had argued that Islamic
law has exceptions that allow women to expose their faces
if it serves a public good, and that arrangements could be
made to have Freeman photographed with only women present
to allay her concerns about modesty.
"Nothing is more important than making sure that our
people are safe, and (Thorpe's) good logic in making sure
Floridians continue to be able to be safe is very, very important,"
Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist said Friday.
Freeman, a convert to Islam previously known as Sandra Kellar,
started wearing a veil in 1997. She had a mug shot taken without
the veil after her arrest in Illinois in 1998 on a domestic
battery charge involving one of twin 3-year-old sisters who
were in her foster care.
Child welfare workers told investigators that Freeman and
her husband had used their concerns about religious modesty
to hinder them from looking for bruises on the girls, according
to the police records. The girls were removed from the home