St. Paul-Minneapolis Muslim Taxi Cab Drivers Refuse Service to People with Service Dogs and Alcohol

 |  Jan 7th 2007  |   6 Contributions


Bravo to those authorities working to uphold the laws that protect service and guide dogs!

I fly in and out of St. Paul several times a year and I can promise you I plan on asking each cabbie before I get in whether or not he allows service and guide dogs. If he doesn't, I'm asking for another cab. In fact, maybe I'll start carrying a small bottle of wine with me just for good measure!

I'm all for religious freedom as long as it works within the laws. In this case, I would suggest that these cabbies find another line of work in which they can live by their own religious edicts.

Do any Dogsters know how we can contact the appropriate authorities in St. Paul to support the Metropolitan Airport Commission? Bark in!

Thanks to MSNBC for this news.

Booze, dogs too much for some Muslim cabbies
Drivers refuse service to passengers, Minn. airport officials put up a fight

MINNEAPOLIS - Some Muslim cab drivers are refusing service to a growing number of passengers with alcohol or dogs, and officials at Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport are trying to fight it.


"Our expectation is that if you're going to be driving a taxi at the airport, you need to provide service to anybody who wants it," said Patrick Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airport Commission.

Each month, about 100 people are denied cab service at the airport, and refusals for religious reasons have grown in recent months, airport officials said. About three-quarters of the 900 taxi drivers at the airport are Somali, many of them Muslim.

The belief that carrying alcohol or dogs, including those that help people with disabilities, violates religious beliefs is "unfortunate," Airports Commissioner Bert McKasy said.

Officials on Wednesday asked the commission for permission to hold public hearings on a proposal that would suspend or revoke drivers' airport licenses for refusing service for reasons other than safety concerns. The commission is expected to vote Jan. 16.

A driver who refuses to transport a passenger with a service dog, in violation of the federal American with Disabilities Act, already faces a 30-day suspension of the airport license, Hogan said. A driver who refuses to transport someone carrying wine is told to go to the back of the taxicab line.

Last year, the airports commission received a fatwa, or religious edict, from the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society saying "Islamic jurisprudence" prohibits taxi drivers from carrying passengers with alcohol, "because it involves cooperating in sin according to Islam."

In the Quran, Muslims are barred from consuming intoxicants generally understood as alcohol, though the prohibition also extends to narcotics. Devout Muslims interpret the ban to include carrying, buying or selling alcohol. Additionally, dogs are considered unclean and Muslims are required to repeat their ablutions if they come into contact with them before praying.

Given the religious concerns, Hassan Mohamud, an imam and director of the Islamic Law Institute at the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, said he would ask airport officials to reconsider.

Eva Buzek, a flight attendant, said she was recently refused service by five taxi drivers when she was carrying wine as she returned from a trip to France.

"In my book, when you choose to come to a different country, you make some choices," said Buzek, a native of Poland. "I never expected everything to be the same way as in my homeland, and I adjusted. I never dreamed of imposing my beliefs on somebody else."

But many Somali taxi drivers do not have a problem transporting passengers with alcohol and are worried about a backlash, Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center,told the Star Tribune newspaper. Jamal said he supports the tougher penalties.

"We tell the taxi drivers, if you don't want to do this, change your job," he said. "You are living in a country where alcohol is not viewed the way it is in your country."

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