BRUSSELS – In a ruling set to create a country-wide precedent, a Muslim woman who went to court after being ordered to remove her veil for an identity photograph has won her case, Belgium’s ‘La Libre Belgique’ newspaper reported today.
The appeal court in the city of Liège found in the woman’s favour, saying Belgian law did not require people in identity photographs to have their heads uncovered and their ears visible.
“The point of a photograph on an identity card is to identify, as its name suggests, the holder. That means that the picture should be as close a likeness as possible to the normal appearance of the cardholder, and in this case that means a young woman who always wears an Islamic veil,” the court ruled.
The court added that it’s decision “could now form jurisprudence.” In practice this should mean the authorities will no longer be able to prevent people from wearing Islamic veils or other religious headwear when posing for identity photos in this country.
The woman, a Belgian citizen of Turkish origin, went to court after the authorities in the town of Vise, north of Liege, refused to renew her identity card. Officials at Vise town hall said they would only provide a new card if she gave them a photo showing her head completely uncovered.