Need To Be "Confirmed" Muslim To Wear Hijab In Passport Photo - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Need To Be “Confirmed” Muslim To Wear Hijab In Passport Photo

Published May 12, 2015

Photos by
Paul Fontaine

Muslim women in Iceland need to show “proof” of their faith in order to be able to wear a hijab in a passport photo. The head of the Muslim Society in Iceland called the regulation “terribly funny”.

Vísir reports that a Muslim Icelander was recently denied the renewal of her passport on the grounds that she would not remove her hijab for the photo. While passport guidelines provide an exemption from the rule forbidding headwear for a passport photo based on religious reasons, those seeking the exemption need to provide proof that they are registered in one of two Muslim organisations in Iceland.

The woman in question, not belonging to any registered religious organisation but a Muslim all the same, had no such “proof” of her religion, and was subsequently denied the exemption. In the end, she was allowed to have her passport photo taken while wearing the hijab when a Muslim organisation wrote a letter confirming that she was, in fact, a Muslim.

“I’m not especially a supporter of the practice, but many women want to wear the hijab or the veil and I can definitely confirm that they are Muslim,” Sverrir Agnarsson, chairperson of the Muslim Society of Iceland, told reporters. “This [rule] is a terribly funny arrangement.”

Anna Katarzyna Wozniczka, chairperson of Women Of Multicultural Ethnicity Network in Iceland, also expressed confusion about the guidelines, as she believes they are vague.

“Does an individual need to be registered in a religious organisation to have it confirmed [that they practice that religion]?,” she asked. “How does one provide such a confirmation? What exactly needs to be shown, and who has the legal authority to provide it? Can a person not confirm their own religion themselves?”

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