Service not Religion; to Minnesota Taxi Passengers

Mike Ghouse

Posted Nov 30, 2006      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
Bookmark and Share

Service not Religion; to Minnesota Taxi Passengers

Mike Ghouse

The passengers traveling to St.Paul –Minneapolis International airport are in for a rude awakening,  when they haul for a cab.

On September 28th, John Reinan of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota’s Startribune reported the following:  Got wine at the airport? It’s harder to grab a cab 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.

“Many Muslim taxi cab drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have refused service to travelers carrying alcohol, claiming the Quran forbids transporting this “mother of all evils.”

Some Muslim taxi drivers want government support for their objection to hauling alcohol | Mark Bergin of World Magazine.

“We have people sometimes who are refused by cab after cab after cab,” said Patrick Hogan of the Metropolitan Airports Commission. “That’s created a problem.”
Rediff writes” The Metropolitan Airports Commission offered what it thought would be a ‘pragmatic’ solution, special roof lights for Muslim taxi drivers. This proved to be the last straw, and the Metropolitan Airports Commission was inundated with angry messages, asking why a secular body was giving the green signal (literally so!) to a Shariat ordinance.

Confronted with such protests, the Metropolitan Airports Commission withdrew its proposal. But the result of the brouhaha was a further deterioration in the image of Islam in the minds of ordinary Americans.

Since then it has been a raging controversy, the State Government to be politically correct is silent about it. Had they consulted a few Civic Islamic Organizations, they would have find the answer otherwise. This has to stop before it damages the fabric of St. Paul – Minnesota or spreads to other Cities. As Muslims, the stand of the Taxi drivers is not acceptable to us.

The Muslim drivers have a right to carry whom they want, where they want in an open and competitive taxi market. However, the rules of the game do not apply when it comes to serving the preferred essential service routes. No passenger should be denied the right to be taken to their destination. Any person, who violates the rule, must be suspended from serving the privilege. 

It may be a business matter between the Taxi Drivers and their Association. However, since the name of religion is shamelessly flaunted by the Drivers, by implication all Muslims, we, the members of the Muslim Congress are taking this up to the News Media and the Taxi drivers Association who gives them the permit to operate in that zone. The decision should be based on the SERVICE to the passengers from airport going home and NOT RELIGION.

In our discussion group World Muslim Congress, Muslims from different walks of life have voiced their opinions:

Will Cornell: Privately owned cabs are like privately owned jets, just as the six Imams have a right to protest for being thrown of the private airline US air for being discriminated, similarly people who buy alcohol on the airport and are going home have a right not to be denied. If the cab driver has a problem he is free not to line up at the airport.

Farzana Hassan, president of Canadian Muslim Congress comments: There is nothing barring Christians from consuming alcohol so Muslims must accommodate this religious freedom of Christians in their interaction with them.

Shamim Siddqiue: Islam loves these values immensely and totally abhors “force” towards imposition of its teachings on anyone in any form. Allah prohibits it in the Qur’aan in Verse # 256 of Chapter 2, Al-Baqarah.

Dr. Muqtedar Khan:  Are the Muslim cab drivers refusing to serve them?  If so, that’s wrong since most cab companies get a special license from the airport or city and this creates a not-exactly free market atmosphere or at least a limited one—there are limited cab companies that service the airport. In a secular society tolerant of religious differences we can not allow religious principles to cause discomfort to others. Should we respect the right of Muslim doctors not to treat alcohol merchants or gay people?
Jesus had said, the one who is sinless can cast the first stone…. these guys have to be pure, absolutely pure in all their doings, and then may be they can flaunt their holiness. It won’t cut it otherwise. It is a show, it is a drama and we should stand up against it. If we do that, then we can expect others to stand up for us on the rightful things

As Muslims, we cannot stand by, watching a few Muslims erroneously flaunting Islam to their end. We have put up with enough of this non-sense and we are not going to put up with it anymore. No Muslim should abuse the religion of Islam for their end.

We have to be fair to all people and stand firmly against discriminative policies. 

Mike Ghouse is a Muslim thinker, speaker and writer, and president of the Foundation for Pluralism. He is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress on the belief that if we can learn to accept and respect the God-given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, conflicts will fade and solutions emerge. His email is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). © copyright 2006 by Mike Ghouse