Sultaana Freeman

Sultaana Lakiana Myke Freeman (born 1967) is an American citizen, resident in the state of Florida. She garnered media attention and notoriety when she sued the state of Florida in order to wear a face veil for her driver's license picture.


Born as Sandra Michele Keller in Washington, D.C. in 1967, she attended school in Decatur, Illinois. In 1985, she enrolled at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, graduating in 1989 with a degree in Commercial Music and a Business Administration minor. Later in 1989, she began employment at a utility company which lasted for a ten-year period, in which she was an engineering assistant. She converted to Islam in January 1997, initially only wearing the headscarf, but, by the end of the year, donning the full face veil (niqab). She married Mark Freeman, also known as Abdul Malik Freeman, on October 14, 1997, in Champaign County, Illinois. In December 1997, she obtained an Illinois driver's license with the veil, to reflect her new appearance.[1]







Florida Lawsuit

In 2002, Freeman filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against Florida when the state's Department of Highway Safety suspended her license when she refused to be re-photographed without her veil. Her legal license was suspended without change in policy or law following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Her lawsuit argued that her religious beliefs required her to wear a veil "in front of strangers and unrelated males". It also stated that other states allowed photo-free licenses for religious reasons. Judge Janet C. Thorpe denied her lawsuit that year, and a state appeals court later upheld Thorpe's ruling.[2][3]

It emerged during trial by Assistant Attorney General Jason Vail that pictures of Freeman's uncovered face had already been taken by government authorities in Illinois. In 1998, she and her husband hesitated when medical staff at a hospital asked to examine twin 3-year-old girls, described as “Muslim attire”, in their foster care. Freeman and her husband apparently objected to any examination of the girls on the grounds that any such exam would violate their religious beliefs. One of the girls had a broken arm, and both had numerous bruises and marks on their bodies. The arrest not only resulted in Freeman's mugshot being taken without veil, but also in her conviction for aggravated battery and a sentence of 18 months probation.[4]

In 1999, Freeman again posed for a police mugshot in connection with her husband's arrest on July 4. She was not charged but her husband was later convicted of reckless discharge of a handgun and sentenced to probation. Mazen Sukkar, a Lebanese-born immigration attorney, told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel: "This is not Muhammad Ali refusing to kill during a war. This is one individual who wants to practice her religion and undermine the whole idea of identification."[4]

See also


  1. Freeman's Brief to the Florida Appellate court,; accessed July 16, 2015.
  2. Opening Statement by Howard Marks for the Plaintiff; accessed November 15, 2014.
  3. Opinion of the Fifth District Court of Appeal; accessed November 15, 2014.
  4. 1 2 Freeman background,; accessed November 15, 2014.

External links

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