An Austrian man who belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has won the right to wear a pasta strainer as “religious headgear” in his driver’s license photo.
Niko Alm, who says he is a “pastafarian,” first applied for the license three years ago, arguing that the colander on his head was a requirement of his religion, “pastafarianism,” reports the BBC.
Alm's new license shows him wearing a pasta strainer upside down on his head like a hat.
"The photo was not approved on religious grounds. The only criterion for photos in driving license applications is that the whole face must be visible," a Vienna police spokesman told the BBC.
The Austrian authorities had reportedly also required Alm to obtain a doctor's certificate to prove he was mentally fit to drive, after having received his license application and photo.
Alm, a self-confessed atheist, says he belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a satirical U.S.-based faith whose members call themselves pastafarians.
The group's website states that "the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma.”
The group has parodied the concept of intelligent design, and asked for their version to be taught in Kansas schools as a counterpoint to an education board that wanted to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution.
Alm said he decided to wear the pasta strainer after the Austrian government specified that hats, caps and other types of headgear are not allowed in driver’s license photos, except for religious purposes.
“I am a person who believes in the equality of all people. I consider privileges due to religious or any other type of belief as anti-democratic. So I wanted to apply the same exception to my headgear,” Alm said, according to the Washington Post.
Alm now wants “pastafarianism” to become an officially recognized religion in Austria.