This isn't just about religion. I can see why no person/organization who/which requires a photo I.D. might hesitate to accept a photo that obscured all facial features regardless of what was causing the face to be obscured. If it's a question of religious freedom, however, then perhaps there needs to be another option created for acceptable I.D.s for people who cannot have their facial features photographed. I don't know what that would be, but I suspect something could be figured out.
As for the risk, for day to day activities, there's some risk and maybe it could be seen as negligible. But when it comes to driver's licenses, passports etc. being used for travel, that is, unfortunately, now a big deal. I'm not just picking on Muslims here either. Or, for that matter, the United States. It's not just this country that's getting much more vigilant about matching I.D.s to travelers, and if a burka--or any other article of clothing--makes a photo I.D. unclear, then that's quite likely going to be a problem for the person using it to travel.
And frankly, I still don't see the point of having a photo I.D. if the photo doesn't indicate who the person is who holds it. A social security card or a credit card would be as accurate an I.D. at that point.
Ok, so this peaked my interest and I did a little search. Apparently in Florida there was actually a woman who sued because she was not permitted to keep her burka on to take her driver's license photo. The State basically held that accommodations could be made - she could be taken in another private room in front of just one female employee and then take off her burka to have her picture taken - if she wanted the privilege of driving. There are apparently 15 states that permit a woman to leave her burka on and/or do not require a picture on driver's licenses. I didn't see what the alternative was in those states. Just thought it was interesting - so hope you all do too.
I understand about respecting someone's religious beliefs. However, we do have rules in our society that our there to protect it's members so I don't think it's asking too much to ask a woman to reveal her face just for a driver license picture. They could take her in another room and have a woman take the picture or make whatever other reasonable accomodations that are necessary. Living in our country means accepting abiding by our rules and laws, IMO.
If this is a big issue for a lot of people, perhaps there could be special driver licenses available to people of that religion with some other means of identification used besides a picture.
Driver's license photos are not only used for the license purpose anymore. Of course, in the "old days" it was to assist a policeman who pulled you over to know that you were who the license said it was, as well as a valid photo ID. Now that DL's are digitized, they're also used for BOLO's (be on the look out), missing person alerts (they're immediately accessible for distribution to mass media, released by the proper authorities), etc. As the practice (IF I should say) grows in the U.S. (which I hope it does not because it indicates a shift towards Sharia), then how will one identify one burka-wearing woman from another? In fact, soldiers in Afghanistan have found MEN wearing burkas as a disguise.
Out of curiosity, I did a little checking, because I thought I'd read some debate about burkas and religious freedom before. Technically, the Koran itself only indicates that women should veil their chests/bosoms. Some radical factions of Islam have expanded that to mean that a woman should veil every part of the body, hence the burkas, but it was never originally required by Islam. Most Muslim women worldwide, however, wear only some version of a head scarf that at least shows their eyes. They may dress modestly as well, but they don't wear a full-out burka.
What I find odd is the dichotomy of wearing the burka and wishing to have a driver's license or even a photo I.D., since the same radically conservative Islamic sects, most notably the Taliban, that insist upon the burka also severely limit a woman's freedom. I seriously doubt women in such sects would be encouraged to drive, as it would give them too much liberty. There's actually a saying among the men of such groups that translates to "Women belong in two places--the home and the grave."
I suspect the fact that the burka isn't universally required by the Muslim world (most Muslims do not, in fact, require it, and some Middle Eastern countries have even banned it) may have something to do with the fact that some states have had grounds to insist that it not be worn in photo I.D.s because it obscures the face. From what I can tell, it's more like a cultural tradition than a strictly religious custom. And it isn't the equivalent of wearing, say, a yamulke or turban in a photo I.D. because they still allow for a clear view of the face. Same thing with nuns in full habit, though fewer and fewer nuns even wear veils anymore, much less a full habit.
I'm all for religious freedom but the rule should be the same across the boards. My son was not allowed to wear his fake glasses (because he has no eyebrows he likes to frame his face) nor was he allowed to wear his beanie even though it wouldn't obstruct the view of his face. Oh well.......life is life I guess.
Sorry if that sounds harsh.