On two occasions last week my dog was barred from London buses, not because she’s particularly fierce or big, but on religious grounds. A friend and I had taken her to the park, and as I went across to the grocer, my friend took Daisy, a Manchester terrier, to the bus stop.
As they tried to board the bus, the driver stopped her and told her that there was a Muslim lady on the bus who “might be upset by the dog”. As she attempted to remonstrate, the doors closed and the bus drew away.
When a second bus arrived, she again made to embark, but was stopped again–this time because the driver said he was Muslim. I know that Muslims consider dogs to be unclean, but last time I looked this wasn’t a Muslim country and London Transport was a non-denominational organisation.
I’m a Catholic, but I’m hardly likely to start insisting that no divorced people should be allowed on my bus. I have no intention of causing upset with my dog and I wouldn’t allow her to brush against anyone who was at pains to avoid her. None the less, I instinctively cavil at this creeping intolerance, masquerading as pious devotion, whatever its origins.