(RNS) -- A female Muslim firefighter in Maryland has won the right to
wear a religious head scarf while at work, and state officials in Idaho
have agreed to allow a Christian woman to wear a head scarf in her
driver's license photo.
Stacy Tobing, a seven-year veteran of the Montgomery County Fire and
Rescue Service who converted to Islam last year, began wearing a
traditional "hijab" at work in June, but was placed on administrative
leave while fire department officials evaluated department policy on the
issue, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"We were worried about what would happen in the event of a fire or
if we were to run into an unruly patient who might want to reach out and
grab her," Fire Administrator Gordon Aoyagi told the Washington Post.
But according to that newspaper, "Tobing showed her supervisors a
special head scarf held together with Velcro that rips away if pulled.
She also proved she could take off the scarf and don protective headwear
in seconds if forced to battle a fire."
Under the agreement reached July 12, Tobing can wear a
dark blue or white head scarf while on duty, and when she needs to wear
protective clothing she can replace the head scarf with a fireproof hood
In a similar case, the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles has
decided to permit a Christian woman to wear a religious head scarf in
her driver's license photograph.
Janet Schmid had been told she could not be photographed wearing the
head covering because doing so would violate a state mandate that does
not allow driver's license photographs in which the face is "disguised
or otherwise concealed," according to the Rutherford Institute, a
nonprofit group that focuses on defending constitutional and human
After the institute's attorneys met with Idaho Transportation
Department officials, Schmid received a waiver recognizing her religious
reasons for wearing the head covering.
Meanwhile, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish
Congress and the Anti-Defamation League have withdrawn their support
from a lawsuit filed by a Muslim woman who claimed she was asked to
refrain from wearing her head scarf at work.
The groups removed their support when the Council on
American-Islamic Relations joined to file a friend-of-the-court brief in
support of Zeinab Ali.
Ali wants the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court's
decision to dismiss her employment discrimination claim against Alamo
Rent-A-Car, according to the American Jewish Committee.
The committee called the American-Islamic council an "extremist
Muslim group that condones terrorism." Joining with the council "would
be to legitimize an organization that condones terrorism," something the
three organizations "cannot do," the committee said.