UK Home Office changes guidelines to allow Muslim women to submit Passport Photos with Hijaab
By Fareena Alam
THE CASE: On 20th March 2000, the British High Commission in Singapore orally refused to renew my British passport because I submitted a photograph of myself in hijaab. To find out full details, please read "British Consulate rejects Passport Photo with Hijaab"
The Muslim News of the UK took up the matter with the British Government. As a result, the UK Home Office created new guidelines that officially allow Muslim woman to wear hijaab in passport photographs.
Muslim women can wear headscarf on passport photos
Saturday 19th August 2000
Muslim women will be allowed to cover their heads with the hijab, or headscarf, on their passport photographs under new Home Office guidelines.
The new guidelines are the result of Fareena Alam's case - she was refused a new passport because she was wearing a hijab on her photograph.
After she protested, she was given a new passport - even though she was wearing a headscarf, The Times reports.
The new guidelines state that: "Provided that photographs show the full face... photographs should not be rejected where a religious headcovering is worn."
Humiliation in a flash
The Times, UK 26 August 2000
Jealousy of another person's success is an unseemly emotion, but Fareena Alam's victory over the Home Office will have many of us seething. She has won the right to wear her Islamic headscarf in her passport photographs, thus gaining a vital degree of protection from the mercilessly bullying eye of the high street photo booth.
The new Home Office guidelines, allowing Muslim women to cover their heads with the hijab headscarf on passport snaps, came after Ms Alam's application to renew her passport was refused because the top and sides of her head and face were covered in her picture. Her protest put the mandarins on dodgy ground, so they issued what they call a "clarification" of the rules.
That let her off the hook. But most of us aren't so lucky: each year we make more than 20 million trips into the half-curtained humiliation chamber without even the help of a floppy hat (against the rules), let alone a fetching SAS balaclava to help hide us from the hypercritical gaze of the machine's cold aperture....(edited)
...But, sadly, that's not likely to happen. Maybe I should try getting a sex change and converting to Islam.
UK Issues New Guidelines on Hijab Passport Photos
Tehran Times, Sunday August 20, 2000
LONDON The British government has been forced to issue new guidelines to officially allow the acceptance of passport photographs of women wearing the hijab (Muslim head scarf).
The clarification follows the case of a Muslim woman having an application to renew her passport rejected at the British High Commission in Singapore because she was wearing hijab. The refusal led Fareena Alam to campaign for her right under Britain's 1976 racial equality act, which allows Muslim women to be exempt from removing their head scarf as it would be judged as indirect racial discrimination.
She also took the issue up with the UK passport agency in London, which helped to resolve the dispute after confirming that she could submit a photo wearing a hijab as long as the entire face was seen.
According to this month's Muslim News, to be published next Friday, the home office has since sent instructions to all British embassies, saying "photographs should not be rejected where a religious head covering is worn" provided the full face is shown.
After investigating the matter, a Home Office spokesman suggested that the High Commission in Singapore may have followed the previous guidelines that indicate photographs have to be "full face without a hat." (IRNA)