UK UPDATE: Issuing of passports to British Muslimahs wearing hijab.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
United Kingdom

11th August 2000
UK UPDATE: Issuing of passports to British Muslimahs wearing hijab.

IHRC has received a number of complaints regarding the advice given by officers at the UK Passport Agency regarding the wearing of hijab in passport photographs. Several sisters were told that hijab was not acceptable. In addition to advising those sisters that this is incorrect, and providing support for their cases, IHRC wrote to the Home Office in July pointing out that such advice was unjust and discriminatory. We received a response from Barbara Roche MP, Minister with responsibility for the United Kingdom Passport Agency at the Home Office today in which she states inter alia that:

“I am sorry to hear about the conflicting advice being given to Muslim women in hijab when renewing their passports. I fully support your concerns that British Muslims should not feel that they cannot renew their passports or feel forced into a distressing situation…

“…I understand that you have received complaints of different advice being received from United Kingdom Passport Offices. The Passport Agency is now issuing guidance to all its offices and its call centre to remind staff that passport photographs will be accepted where head coverings are worn…

“You might also like to know that the Immigration and Nationality Directorate Travel Documents Section accept photographs where head-coverings are worn, and that staff have been reminded of this following your letter.

“You mentioned that you would request that the giving of wrong advice in this matter is made a disciplinary offence. If a member of staff deliberately gives misinformation disciplinary proceedings would be considered…The Passport Agency is taking steps to ensure that staff are fully aware of the position on this issue…”

If you have had bad advice given regarding this issue from the UK passport agency or any European government please let IHRC know. IHRC has been monitoring European best practice in dealing with issues pertaining to Muslims living as a minority in Europe, and have taken on or assisted individual cases as well as advocated best practice and basic rights for the community as a whole from governments and inter-governmental organisations and agencies.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
United Kingdom

tel: (+44) 20 8902 0888
fax: (+44) 20 8902 0889