02 October 2006

Muslim Cabbies Refuse Passengers With Alcohol In Minnesota

A story two weeks ago in the USA Today touched on this in their business travel section.

Minneapolis-St. Paul is concerned that its taxi service is deteriorating. Citing their religious beliefs, some Muslim taxi drivers from Somalia are refusing to transport customers carrying or suspected of carrying alcohol. It started with one driver a few years ago, but the average number of fare refusals has grown to about three a day, says airport spokesman Patrick Hogan. "Travelers often feel surprised and insulted," he says. "Sometimes, several drivers in a row refuse carriage."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune had this story four days ago about Muslim taxi drivers refusing to take fares with alcohol.

About three-quarters of the 900 taxi drivers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are Somalis, many of them Muslim. About three times daily, would-be customers are refused taxi service when a driver sees they're carrying alcohol. [...]

Now the airports commission has a solution: color-coding the lights on the taxi roofs to indicate whether a driver will accept a booze-toting fare. The actual colors haven't been decided on yet, but commission officials met Thursday with representatives of the taxi drivers and the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society to continue working on the plan.

The people of Minneapolis-St. Paul should be careful here. Capitulating to Muslim taxi drivers on alcohol may be opening the door to further discrimination from the vast majority of the taxi drivers at their airport. Why not also refuse openly homosexual couples, openly religious people from other faiths, or fares wanting transportation to a strip club? I'm not saying it will go here, but judging from the way that Muslims have taken advantage of previous appeasement, the possibility is certainly there.

This also brought to mind a current case in New York. The NAACP has filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights against the Ben Gilman Medical and Dental Clinic, saying that the clinic operators are invoking their religion in order to engage in disparate treatment of people of different faiths simply because the clinic closes on Saturdays in observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

That's not too different from what the Muslim taxi drivers are doing in Minnesota. They are different states, but I would think that someone could file a similar type of claim in Minnesota. The cities or state must provide the licensing for the taxis, and you would think that this could be grounds for suspension or termination of that licensing.

If I am ever flying into Minneapolis or St. Paul and need to catch a taxi, I will be sure to specifically ask how to find a taxi that will carry alcohol. It won't matter if I am carrying alcohol or not, because I would rather not pay a fare to a cabby who wouldn't agree to transport me to my destination based upon whether or not I have an alcoholic beverage with me.


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