This article was written at the beginning of 2007, and for the five years prior to that at least 5,400 travelers were refused service for either having a pet or guide dog, or were carrying alcohol. So airport commissioners were contemplating punishing those cab drivers who discriminate against people for those reasons. They, of course, claimed that they were the ones being discriminated against.
"It is against our faith and the airport is discriminating against Muslim drivers," says a cab driver who would only give his first name, Hashim.
According to Patrick Hogan of the Metropolitan Airports Commission:
"There are times where cab after cab will refuse service, and passengers can be waiting for 20 minutes. We've had complaints of people being asked if they had any alcoholic beverages in their luggage. We were seeing an average of 77 refusals a month," he says, "Now we're seeing between 8 and 20."
That's because, thanks to 9/11, we can't travel with anything larger than 2 or 3 ounces on board anymore.
Licensed cab drivers aren't supposed to discriminate, unless they feel threatened in some way, and surprisingly the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) agreed :
"This is a public access issue," says Chuck Samuelson, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, "Bottom line is we are a secular society, and that's the way it is."
After the commission refused attempts at compromise, CAIR finally stepped in and resolved the issue.
After CAIR-MN facilitated dialogue between the two groups and cleared the misunderstanding, the Muslim taxi drivers offered free rides to attendees of the American Council of the Blind Convention in downtown Minneapolis. Abdinoor Ahmed Dolal, owner of Twin Cities Airport Taxi, said “Islam forbids us to turn away a blind passenger, whether they have a guide dog or not. Their rights come first.”
Apparently, dogs aren't such a major issue for Muslims after all:
An Iman from the local Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre, Javed Jaffri, researched the dog topic and served as an expert witness for a blind man refused passage by a Muslim taxi driver. Jaffri spent long hours on this, and provided an unbiased interpretation of the Koran that indicated “there is nothing saying that one must refuse service to another person because of the fear of contamination by a dog.”
He also said that “there can be exceptions to blanket refusals to deal with dogs, especially if it means helping someone in need. All that would be required in most circumstances would be for a Muslim person to wash their hands before eating if they have been in contact with a dog. That’s not a terrible task to go through,” he said.
But there are still problems in Canada, according to a post on Blazing Catfur.
Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy discusses her trouble hailing a cab at Pearson Airport because of her dachsie Kishka. At 1:30 a.m. On her third try she finally found a cabbie who would take her and Kishka home.
After posting on Facebook, she found out she wasn't alone.
What I realized is that this occurs quite often not only at the airport but in Toronto proper and is happening due to religious reasons — that is, because dogs are considered unclean in certain religions.
In fact, Gail Beck-Souter, general manager of Beck Taxi that operates about 900 cars in Toronto, confirms that if certain Muslims take a dog in their vehicle, they are required to go home and shower afterwards (before they pray).
It would seem that the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) which licenses limos that pick up at Pearson airport and the companies that operate out of the airport have bent over backwards to accommodate the religious demands of their drivers — who clearly have strength in numbers.
McIntosh Limousine manager Anne Ruddy claimed the driver who turned me down, a gentleman from India, did so because he “doesn’t have to” take dogs.
But the driver would have to take Kishka if he was a service dog — that’s the “law,” she said.
She denied Muslim drivers in their fleet would ever turn down dogs for religious reasons contending it has more to do with “them being scared” of dogs.
Asked how she felt about a woman being denied a ride at 1:30 a.m., Ruddy said she “hates the idea” but they have to “abide by the GTAA rules” — they “don’t have a choice.”
I had to laugh when I read the description of their drivers on the McIntosh website, most particularly this gem: “Our drivers have taken sensitivity training...”
Guess that sensitivity training didn’t include the part about not leaving a woman stranded at 1:30 a.m.
Read her whole ordeal here.
Someone needs to start educating these people that if it's just the saliva they're worried about, carry a nice big bottle of Purell, and keep it in the car. Ironically, they are probably handling things that are far dirtier and unclean than a dog's saliva, which is pretty filthy.