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March 4, 2009

Civil rights in jeopardy in Oklahoma

oklahoma-flag1Our founding fathers would roll over in their graves if they could only see the events taking place in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
On March 2nd, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation (H.B. 1645) that would “strictly prohibit” individuals from wearing “head scarves” and “head garments” in driver’s license photographs. Members of the House voted 88-8 in favor of the measure.
The Tulsa World, an Oklahoman media outlet, reported that the legislation was introduced by Oklahoma Republican Rep. Rex Duncan in light of the Norman Department of Motor Vehicles allowing Monique Barrett, a Muslim woman, to take her driver’s license photo while wearing a hijab.
In the past Rep. Duncan has made headlines by refusing to accept a copy of the Quran as a gift from the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council. When asked for comment, Rep. Duncan was quoted as saying “Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology….I know that not all Muslims are terrorists, but I don’t know of another religion or ideology that employs terrorism and the threat of terrorism.’’
The proposed law, if passed, would threaten the religious freedom of Oklahoma residents who uphold religious coverings as  sacred to their beliefs. Observant Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs would all be negatively affected by such a restriction.
Section 6-111 of the bill states, “Hats, head scarves, head garments, bandanas, prescription or nonprescription glasses or sunglasses, masks or costumes that cover or partially cover the head or shoulders are strictly prohibited and shall not be worn by the licensee or cardholder when being photographed for a license or identification card.”
As a resident of the state of Oklahoma, I think this type of legislation is un-American, un-constitutional, and in direct violation of what the great state of Oklahoma stands for: mutual respect, honor, and compassion for your fellow Oklahoman.
The United States of America is a melting pot of Americans who come from all walks of life. To enforce such a ridiculous restriction would be to strip Americans of their freedoms granted under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The bill is still waiting approval in the Senate and if passed, would go for final approval to Brad Henry, the governor of Oklahoma.
For further information click here and here.

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