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'Pastafarian' wins religious freedom right

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An Austrian has been granted the right to wear a pasta strainer on his head for his driver's licence on the grounds of religious freedom.

Niko Alm - a self-styled "pastafarian" who says he belongs to "the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" - underwent a three-year struggle to be able to wear the kitchen appliance on his head for the official photo. Austrian law dictates that headwear can only be worn in driving licence photos for "confessional" reasons.

His initial request to wear the pasta strainer in 2008 ended up in him being referred to a psychologist, to check he was mentally fit to drive.

However, his efforts to be recognised as a pastafarian finally won through when he was sent a laminated licence featuring wearing the upturned sieve (above) - with transport authorities recognising it to be an accessory needed for his "faith."

Niko announced the news on his blog, saying: "Today I was able to get my new driving licence, and in it you can clearly see that I'm wearing a colander on my head to demonstrate my allegiance to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster ... My headwear has now been recognised by the Republic of Austria."

The Flying Spaghetti Monster was a concept invented by a physics graduate in Oregon State in 2005, in opposition to a motion by the Kansas school board to teach the theory of Intelligent Design in biology instead of evolution. It is based around belief in a supernatural universe composed of pasta and meatballs and now has thousands of followers who adhere to the idea that the world was created by a drunk Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Niko plans to continue his campaign by getting Pastafarianism recognised as an official religion in Austria.

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