12:19 GMT +317 July 2019
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    A woman wearing a hijab looks through the window

    Norwegian Muslims, Sikhs Protest 'Offensive' ID Requirement to Show Ears

    CC BY-SA 2.0 / Hernán Piñera / Look through the window
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    Many Muslim women have their ears hidden under a hijab or some other kind of Islamic headdress, while Sikhs wear ear-covering turbans. Baring ears would therefore constitute a “degrading” breach of the tenets of their faith, they argue.

    A group of Norwegian Muslims have launched a campaign to remove the requirement for visible ears on passports and ID cards.

    A total of 842 responses from organisations and individuals alike were sent to the government to remove the mandatory ear demand, the news outlet Document reported.

    “The requirement for visible ears on facial photography is contrary to freedom of religion”, the Muslim Common Council of Rogaland said.

    “As a Muslim, I ask the government to change requirement to show the ears in the passport image. We feel that it is very offensive and degrading to have to remove the ears from the hijab as it violates the rights of all Muslim women living here in Norway. We believe that this law limits our freedom”, a typical response from a private person said.

    Turban-wearing Sikhs also joined the cause to remove the visible ear requirement. The Sikhs and Punjabis of Rogaland also supported the popular movement.

    According to Ingrid Rosendorf Joys, the leader of the Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities (STL), the Sikhs are among those particularly affected.

    “The requirement for visible ears is a disproportionate intervention in the freedom of religion”, she explained.

    In 2014, new rules for passports were introduced in Norway. One of the requirements was that one should have visible ears on one's photograph. Ears can be of great importance when identifying a person.

    “The ears are as unique as fingerprints and only slightly affected by weight changes, makeup and aging. They therefore provide much information that may be important for the manual checking of passport applicants against submitted documentation and previously registered facial photos in the passport register of the same name,” the legal justification for the requirement said.

    Back then, a large group of Muslims and Sikhs created the so-called Religious Freedom Group and gathered 3,600 signatures, which were subsequently sent to the Minister of Justice. However, the law was implemented despite the protests.

    Norway's Islamic community has been growing exponentially since the 1960s. At present, Muslims are estimated to constitute 5.7 percent of Norway's population of 5.2 million.

    Norway's Sikh community is estimated at 5,000, of whom 250 are estimated to wear a turban.

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    religion, Islam, Sikh, Scandinavia, Norway
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