Forwarded Alert: USA – Support Religious Freedom in Oklahoma

Islamic Human Rights Commission

10 March 2009

Forwarded Alert: USA – Support Religious Freedom in Oklahoma

Support Religious Freedom in Oklahoma

Proposed law will forbid Sikh turbans in driver’s license photos

Washington DC; March 3, 2009— Earlier today, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF, the oldest Sikh American civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, called upon members of the Oklahoma State Senate to prove that religious freedom will be protected in Oklahoma. This demand comes on the heels of the passage last night of legislation (H.B. 1645 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives 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.

Tell the Oklahoma Senate to Protect Religious Freedom! (

According to an editorial in a local newspaper (, this legislation was introduced by Oklahoma Rep. Rex Duncan in response to news that a Muslim woman was allowed to wear a hijab in her driver’s license photo at her local Department of Motor Vehicles. Because the proposed law forbids all headcoverings, the religious rights of practicing Sikhs who wear their dastaars (Sikh turbans) are in serious jeopardy. Observant Jews, Muslims, and Christians are also affected, as are other individuals who are required to wear religious headcoverings.

When SALDEF contacted Rep. Duncan on February 27, 2009 to express concern and elicit clarification about his motives, his office denied having knowledge of the issue. Now SALDEF is working alongside the ACLU of Oklahoma and other coalition partners to persuade the Oklahoma State Senate to ensure that a religious exemption is carved out of the proposed legislation.

Sign SALDEF’s Petition and take action today!

If the Oklahoma State Senate passes this legislation, and if the Governor of Oklahoma signs it into law, Oklahoma will lead the way backward—not forward—in the struggle for civil rights for all Americans. The impact on the Sikh American community of Oklahoma may be severe.

“We look forward to educating Mr. Duncan ( and his colleagues about religious freedom,” said Rajdeep Singh Jolly, Legal Director of SALDEF. “We also call upon all religious communities, civil rights organizations, and concerned citizens throughout the nation to demand that the government of Oklahoma clarifies its commitment to protecting civil rights in the 21st century.”

Sign SALDEF’s Petition ( and tell Oklahoma State Senator Roger Ballenger ( to show some courage and persuade his colleagues to support religious freedom for all Americans! If you want to voice your concerns by phone, you can reach the Senator at (405) 521-5588.



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“And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.”
Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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