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No hijab for IDs

Shalveen Chand
Monday, July 14, 2014

MUSLIM women will have to remove their head scarves/veil or hijab for the Fiji National Provident Fund and Fiji Revenue Customs Authority joint identification card pictures.

Two Muslim women were turned away from FNPF in Suva after they refused to take off their hijab.

The distraught women from Nausori had gone to get their joint ID cards when they were told by FNPF staff members to remove their hijab.

Roselyn Karim, a garment worker, said her religion didn't permit her to do so, especially in the month of Ramadan.

She said it was considered an act of blasphemy.

"I can't just take off my hijab in front of anyone, especially a man. That violates my religion and I feel that I would have shamed not only myself but my family," she said.

"The Prime Minister has been saying that he will ensure that nobody's religion is violated."

However, she now has to go back and have her and her daughter's pictures taken without the head scarf.

FNPF has made arrangements for the women to have their pictures taken by women.

"One of the key requirements for the Joint ID procedures is a face-check verification.

"This is to ensure that the applicant is indeed a bona fide member/ taxpayer.

"If staff are not able to see the member's full facial features required for identification purposes, then there is no assurance that the member is the same person that is on the IDs being presented to us," FNPF chief executive Aisake Taito said.

"Bending this customer identification and face validation procedure can be a channel for identity theft; thus is high risk.

"We do appreciate that everyone has a right to their religious/cultural belief which dictates the way they dress.

"But for identification purposes, particularly in the issuance of new ID, it is important that procedures are followed.

"It must be noted that our procedures also allow our Muslim women member's privacy to have their hijab and burqa removed in the presence of a female staff, who will verify their identity."

Fiji Muslim League general secretary Tabiz Akbar said despite the religious and cultural belief held by the Muslim women, if the government required Muslim women to take pictures for certain things especially dealing with matters of national interest, then there was nothing they could do.

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