14 April 2007

Freedom of religion vs. public safety?

Freedom of religion vs. public safety?

Have you heard about the Muslim lady who is suing . . . correction: whose husband is suing because he doesn't want her to lift her veil for her license photograph? If not, click here before reading further.

I think the whole reason we have photos on our licenses is so we can be tracked if we do something bad or if we're missing or . . . something. A mostly-covered face with just some eyes isn't going to help when we're looking for you after you've been kidnapped. Unless, that is, you still have most of your face covered. But then we'd be grabbing random Muslim women and asking them if they are the kidnappee.

On the other hand, if someone asked me to do something that I was religiously connected to, I would also have a problem with it. Such as if I were asked by the CIA to kill someone, I probably wouldn't want to. That might be a little extreme, but I wanted an example having to do with a government-sanctioned activity. A less extreme and non-governmental example might be if I were in a beauty pageant and I was told to wear a bikini. Hmm. Maybe that doesn't work anyway, because it's not religious. It has to do with my amazing aversion to showing skin. How about a really short, really strapless dress? Here's one: if the government wanted me to get a big tattoo with a citizen number on it or a map of where an enemy is, I think I'd plead religious aversion. That is, of course, if the government was American. (Because if I were under Nazi rule, I wouldn't have any choice about the number.)

So, in other words, I haven't quite figured out what I think about this debate yet. I do think one person who is sincere in pleading religious aversion is fine, but what if others use it to their advantage? What if we suddenly have a lot of people wanting to not show their face and we couldn't do anything about it? Let me clarify one thing here: I am not, in any way, inferring that Muslims are all terrorists. But terrorists (American, Latvian, Hungarian, Brazilian, any type) could use that case to claim their own religious aversion. So, maybe the judge made the right decision and the next judge up should also say that the veil must be lifted.

One more thing: over my dad's shoulder tonight, I listened to a guy talk to a bunch of Muslim kids about being Muslim in America. I thought what they said was really interesting. They were individually diverse. Some wore the hijab, some didn't. One girl remarked how she was called a nasty name by a really distinguished-looking man on the subway. Another said her teacher had said, "You must be aggressive." Anyway, two of the girls talked about why they wore the hijab (only two of a group of 12 or so did). Neither of them said anything about it having to do with their beliefs or religion. One said that it was just her style. The other said she wanted to show others that she wasn't afraid of being different. Of course, no Mormon would claim that garments are their style, but I really was surprised that no link to religion was made. I would link even the smallest thing to my belief, such as not piercing my nose.

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