Muslim minicab driver refused to take a blind passenger because her guide dog was “unclean”.
Abdul Rasheed Majekodumni told Jane Vernon she could not get into his car with the dog because of his religion.
Islamic tradition warns Muslims against contact with dogs because they are seen as impure.
The case emerged as Jack Straw was embroiled in a controversy over Muslim women wearing veils and the row continued after a Muslim police officer was excused guard duty at the Israeli embassy. Today Mrs Vernon, 39, from Hammersmith, said: “This experience was very upsetting.
“I was tired and cold and just wanted to get home but this driver made me feel like I was a second-class citizen, like I didn’t count at all.”
Mrs Vernon, who works as a legal officer for the Royal National Institute for the Blind, added: “The owner of the minicab firm, Niven Sinclair, was also very insensitive, telling me that what had happened to me wasn’t really very important, and I should have more respect for other people’s culture. They have shown very little respect for my rights as a disabled person and have never once offered me an apology.”
Niven’s and Co cab company, is contracted by the BBC and the minicab was sent to take her home from a studio after she was invited to appear on News 24.
The driver’s refusal resulted in a court case because the law requires all licensed cab drivers to carry guide dogs. Magistrates at Marylebone fined Mr Majekodumni £200 and ordered him to pay £1,200 for failing to comply with regulations set out under the Disability Discrimination Act. After the case Mr Majekodunmi remained defiant and insisted that he would continue refusing passengers accompanied by guide dogs.
Bill Alker, who works with Mrs Vernon at the RNIB supporting other victims of discrimination, said: “Jane and I have worked together for about 16 months advising and supporting people who have suffered the same crime.
“It is absolutely wrong and must stop. Many drivers, cab company operators and the authorities that provide licences are together flouting a good law that was introduced to help blind and partially sighted people get about more independently.”
Drivers who refuse to take a guide dog can lose their licence or get a fine of up to £1,000 but Mr Alker said cases rarely went to court.
“Victims must have the support of the area licensing authority who have the power to bring a prosecution or discipline the driver,” he said. “So many drivers flout the law and get away with it.”
Earlier this month Mrs Vernon supported-another blind woman who was refused a taxi ride take the case to court. Bernie Reddington, 37, had asked driver Basir Miah for a lift home after a hospital appointment at Great Ormond Street but he had refused, calling her dog “dirty”.
Horseferry Magistrates Court found him guilty of breaching the terms of his licence and fined him £150 plus £250 compensation.
Mrs Vernon said: “We need to encourage other licensing authorities around the country to start taking these incidents more seriously.
“Many blind people rely on taxis to get around. Not being able to get access to this kind of service is completely wrong and can affect their independence and confidence. In many cases this causes real problems in their work, educational and social life.”
Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society, said: “The clash between religious rights and the human rights of other people will become increasingly an issue as the Government tries to include all forms of discrimination under the same umbrella.
“Fortunately, in this instance, disability seems to trump religion.”
Muslim taxi drivers are refusing to carry blind passengers with their guide dogs or anyone carrying alcohol.
At least 20 dog-aided blind people have lodged discrimination complaints with the Victorian Taxi Directorate. Dozens more have voiced their anger.
And there have been several complaints that drivers refuse to allow passengers to carry sealed bottles of alcohol.
Victorian Taxi Association spokesman Neil Sach said the association had appealed to the mufti of Melbourne to give religious approval for Muslim cabbies to carry guide dogs.
One Muslim driver, Imran, said yesterday the guide dog issue was difficult for him.
“I don’t refuse to take people, but it’s hard for me because my religion tells me I should not go near dogs,’’ he said.
There are about 2000 Muslims among drivers of Melbourne’s 10,000 taxis. Many are from countries with strict Islamic teachings about “unclean’’ dogs and the evils of alcohol.
Drivers who refused to carry blind people with their dogs attended remedial classes at Guide Dogs Victoria, Mr Sach said.
“They are taught why blind people need dogs,” Mr Sach said.
“The Victorian Taxi Association has included a program in their taxi driver training program.”
Guide Dogs Victoria spokeswoman Holly Marquette said blind people regularly reported taxi drivers refusing to carry them because of their dogs.
“It’s sad and quite upsetting,” Ms Marquette said. “We try to work with new drivers to educate them about their responsibilities and the needs and rights of blind people.
“We explain that the dog is clean, well trained, won’t go near them and will stay in the foot well with the client.
“But it’s a high turnover industry and it’s hard to capture everyone.”
Ms Marquette said there was a legal requirement for taxi drivers, shops, restaurants, hotels and supermarkets to accept guide dogs.”
Opposition Transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the guide dog issue would exacerbate the taxi industry’s flagging respect in the community.
Under the State Government’s customer charter, taxi passengers have the right to “be accompanied by a guide dog or hearing dog”.
Mr Sach said the problem was often reversed and that Muslim drivers suffered discrimination from passengers who abused them for being “terrorists”.
“Muslims are good people and the community has to realise that the days of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant are well and truly over,” he said.
Over the past two years the licences of 306 drivers were revoked or suspended, including those who refused to carry the blind and their dogs.
Fjordman, April 4, 2005
This case is in fact several months old, but I didn’t get around to translating it until now.This is partly because there is an ongoing “Taxi Jihad” in Oslo, but I decided I will follow this up later as matters unfold. Muslim taxi drivers demand a separate prayer room at Oslo Airport, where they can pray during working hours, but have received a negative answer. The leader of the Somali Taxi Association, Ali Hassan, finds this discriminating and unacceptable, and is planning a law suit over the matter: “We think we have a right to pray during working hours. We demand to get a room where we can perform prayers, without losing our spot in the taxi queue.”
This is similar to a case in the USA recently, where 30 Muslim workers were fired for praying on job at Dell Computers. However, after CAIR and their Saudi-paid lawyers got involved, a settlement was reached in which the Muslim employees were reinstated, received back pay, and was granted religious accommodation. It seems as if demanding a prayer room at the work place is high in the Islamic agenda in Western nations these days.
At the same time as this is going on, blind people with their guide dogs are finding it increasingly difficult to get a taxi ride, and not just in the capital. In Oslo, Muslims make up such a high percentage of cab drivers that it can be hard to obtain a taxi during Islamic holidays. The following example is from the city of Drammen outside Oslo, one of the Norwegian municipalities where the number of Muslim immigrants is now so large that the conflicts are becoming significant. A pro-Israeli politician from the rightwing Progress Party recently received death threats here. A lady in Drammen ran into some unexpected difficulties when travelling to visit another town:
Grethe Olsen, accompanied by her guide dog Isak, experienced being rejected by no less than 21 taxis before finally getting a ride. Olsen thinks the taxi drivers said no for religious reasons. The Norwegian Blind Association confirms that this is a well known problem all over the country, especially in cities with many immigrants. It arises when a blind person accompanied by a guide dog wants to take a taxi from a stand, instead of ordering one in advance.
According to spokesperson Amber Khan from World Islamic Mission in Oslo, this has nothing to do with Islam. “This is culture, not religion,” she says. “If somebody is dependent upon a dog, this should take precedence over religion.” Director Viggo Korsnes in Norway’s Taxi Association has no sympathy for drivers who refuse to accept guide dogs into their cars. “You are obliged to accept the dog. Those who don’t should find something else to do.”
Amber Khan is not entirely wrong. Dogs, although considered extremely dirty animals and greatly disliked, are permitted for certain limited uses, such as guarding your property. I have never seen anything mentioned about guide dogs included in these few exceptions. At best, it is a matter of a great deal of interpretation. Khan is blatantly wrong in stating that this has nothing to do with the Islamic religion. First of all, Islam is not just a religion, but culture and politics as well, all rolled into one. It is difficult to see how non-Muslims are supposed to separate between religion and culture given that Islam admits no such distinction. And core Islamic texts do reveal a strong distaste for dogs, going back to Muhammad himself. Here are two hadith from the most important collections for one billion Sunni Muslims:
Narrated Abu Talha : The Prophet said, “Angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or there are pictures.”
Abdullah (b. Umar) (Allah be pleased with them) reported: Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) ordered the killing of dogs and we would send (men) in Medina and its corners and we did not spare any dog that we did not kill, so much so that we killed the dog that accompanied the wet she-camel belonging to the people of the desert.
According to Islaamic Sharee’ah, it is not permitted to keep a dog except within narrowly-defined limits, as the Prophet explained: “Whoever keeps a dog, his good deeds will decrease every day by one qeeraat (a unit of measurement), unless it is a dog for farming or herding.” Dogs are extremely naajis (impure, unclean). Keeping dogs nowadays is the habit of the kuffaar (infidels), who adopt them as friends, kiss them, let them lick them and their clothes, sleep with them and even leave them money in their wills. Keeping a dog is an imitation of the kuffaar. Some Muslims may claim that they need to keep a dog at home for purposes of protection, to which we respond that nowadays there are burglar alarm systems and other measures one may take for security purposes, and there is no need to keep a dog, praise be to Allaah.
Another issue following the large number of Muslim immigrants among taxi drivers is increased harassment of women customers, in line with the general pattern. In the old days, women were advised to take a taxi home to avoid rape. Now, it could be the taxi driver raping you:
Since the latest in a string of sexual assaults against women in Copenhagen taxicabs was reported earlier last week, Copenhagen police say they have received at least 10 reports from women who have claim to have experienced physical or verbal harassment from taxicab drivers in recent months. On 5 September, a young woman told police she was sexually molested by a cab driver. On 6 October, a 25-year-old woman reported that a dark-skinned taxi driver raped her after she hailed his cab shortly after midnight. The chairman of the Greater Copenhagen Taxi Council, Erik Eefsen, told daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten that installing closed circuit video cameras in all capital city taxis might be a necessary step to protect the safety of drivers and customers alike.
Muslims always claim that the West need Islamic morality. Do we really need a religion where having sex with children is ok, but letting a blind person’s guide dog into your car is considered immoral? How on earth can the same Muslims who whine and want special treatment that no other religious group enjoys with a straight face deny blind people assistance? And they wonder why people get “Islamophobia”?
It should be added that the usual anti-racist and anti-discrimination groups have remained strangely silent about this grave and illegal discrimination of handicapped Norwegian citizens in their own country. I’m sure they’ll wake up when the Somali Taxi Association sues to get a sponsored room where they can pray during working hours. Non-Muslims, blind or otherwise, will just have to wait in line while the taxi drivers are busy praying. That’s the Islamic concept of “mutual respect”.