Friday, October 13, 2006

Muslim Taxi Drivers

It was never my intent to use this blog to gripe about Muslims (at least entirely) but I do not get to post very often and when I do, there is usually something Muslim related flying across my radar.

I have been hearing more and more about Muslim taxi drivers refusing service to people with dogs, usually blind people with dogs but I am sure other people who travel with dogs need taxis every now and then too, or people with alcohol. The incidents that involve alcohol have all been "nice" in nature in that there was never any interrogation by the driver nor violence involved.

While I usually treat other religeons (or cultures but Islam makes no distinction) with some regard, I must say that if one's beliefs prevent him from providing services in a service-related industry, he needs to find new work. This is especially true if denying these services is in violation of local laws - such as the case with discriminating against the handicapped. Of course, this is ripe for false-analogy arguments so I leave it at this: In the case of taxi drivers, if dogs or alcohol will prevent you from taking a fare, either find a different line of work or stay out of queues where people with dogs and alcohol frequent.

There may be some analogies that, at least in part, apply:

What if Muslim drivers carried this over to how people were dressed? I do not think there is anything in Islamic law preventing the transport of inappropriately dressed women but I am not certain.

What if Muslim drivers refused to take people to parts of town they do not find "respectable"? (E.g. "There are bars within a mile of here that serve alcohol or clubs where people take their clothes off!") *

What if taxi drivers with olfactory sensitivities refused to carry Indians because they smelled of curry? The reason for refusal is not religious but borders on the medical.

Conversely, what if non-Muslim drivers started refusing to carry anyone in a head scarf or turban? There are actually some modern religeons that do frown on head coverings.

I support businesses to refuse service to whomever they choose for any reason whatsoever. A taxi is a business whether it is a single cab or fleet. If the driver chooses to refuse a fare, he has that right. However, the taxi company has the right to fire him without compensation. The airports, hotels, and other businesses have the right to bar both the driver and the taxi company from their queues. If they choose not to bar the taxi, they still have the option of sending the driver to the back of the queue.

* On a side note: Something similar happend to me in Mexico City. I was going to the airport and the driver was not authorized to pick up fares at the airport. Given the time of day and traffic to and fro, he refused service to me. The solution was simple: He was out $40 and I took another cab.

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