JANUARY 25, 2007
Commissioners at one of the nation’s busiest airports have finally scheduled a public meeting to consider punishing Muslim cab drivers who refuse passengers carrying liquor or guide dogs because Islamic law forbids it.
Although the state agency that licenses them prohibits discrimination and allows fare refusal only for safety reasons, Muslim taxi drivers at Minnesota’s largest airport turn down about 100 customers a month simply because they have sealed alcoholic containers or a dog.
The Minnesota Chapter of the Muslim American Society says it’s because Islamic law prohibits, not only the drinking but the selling and transport of alcohol therefore driving a passenger in possession of it is a sin. Islam also considers the saliva of dogs, even federally protected guide dogs, to be unclean.
Three quarters of the 900 taxi drivers licensed to operate at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which annually services around 40 million passengers, are Muslim so the discrimination has become quite a problem and left thousands of passengers stranded without a ride.
This week, the state’s Metropolitan Airport’s Commission, which regulates and licenses taxis, announced that it may finally take action in the matter which has spiraled out of control. A meeting next month will be held to determine whether to fine the drivers with temporary and long term license suspensions. The public event is sure to be heated, with Muslim community leaders playing the discrimination card.
The Constitutional Matters Project suggests that, instead of trumpeting charges of anti-Muslim backlash, Islamic groups would better serve America’s Muslim community by educating them on religious tolerance, respecting the rights of others and showing compassion to a blind person shivering in the chill of the Minnesota winter waiting for a taxi driver who will take him and his dog home from the airport.
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