SALDEF Secures Victory for Sikhs to Wear Dastar for Driver License Picture

CHICAGO, IL, USA—After more than a year of work on the issue, SALDEF is proud to announce that the state of Illinois has confirmed that Sikhs can wear their dastaars (turbans) in their driver’s licenses.

SALDEF received reports that Sikh Americans and members of other communities, like the Muslim community, in Illinois were being asked to remove dastaars and/or modify their articles of faith in order to get their driver’s licenses. SALDEF engaged directly with Drivers Service Department in order to secure the needed religious accommodations for Sikhs and members of other faiths. As a result, the Department has published a poster and handout on religious accommodation of Sikh Americans, which is being shared with every office in the State as well as the public.


“The release of this poster and guidance confirms the right of every American to practice their faith,” said Jasjit Singh, Executive Director of SALDEF. “A driver’s license or photo identification card is a basic need in today’s society. We commend Secretary White and the Department for addressing this problem and publishing a valuable resource for all residents of Illinois.”

SALDEF thanks its partners, including the Council on American Islamic Relations – Chicago (CAIR-Chicago), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI), who worked on this project. SALDEF also recognizes the contributions of community members, Abhijeet Singh and Simaren Sandhu of the University of Illinois Sikh Students Association, and Nick Khalon.

“We commend the Illinois Secretary of State office for making this important change to its drivers license photo policy that brings it into line with the policy of the U.S. State Department,” said Reema Kapur, Executive Director of SAAPRI. “We also thank SALDEF for its leadership in working with the Drivers Service Department to devise solutions that respect and accommodate religious diversity.”



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