Taxi Driver Refuses Guide Dog Owner For ‘Religious’ Reasons
In a recent video posted on Facebook, a taxi driver for ADT in Leicester appears to refuse service to a guide dog owner citing his religion as the reason. The driver then pulls away, leaving the disabled man stranded when he protests at being told he will have to wait for another car.
This, sadly, is not an uncommon experience. It was also reported in the Lancashire Evening Post recently that ‘almost half’ of guide dog owners are refused service by taxi drivers. As mentioned by the man in the video, this contravenes the equality act and a driver called Zabar Hussain was the first man in the Lancashire area to be fined for refusing a guide dog owner as a result.
According to the Northampton Chronicle, taxi drivers who refuse to pick up guide dog owners have been issued with formal warnings. This came after the following incident in 2015:
In September 2015, Colin Bradford was leaving Milton Keynes Hospital with his son when a cab driver declined to take the booking because he was also accompanied by his guide dog.
Five further drivers from the same firm subsequently refused the booking via an electronic booking system and one driver drove off when he saw the guide dog at the pick-up point.
This appears to be a uniquely Muslim issue, rather than simply a ‘religious’ one. There is a widespread belief within the Muslim world that dogs are ‘impure’ and therefore they are rarely part of a Muslim household. It is also illegal to own a dog in Iran where doing so could earn you a hefty fine and 74 lashes.
This mostly appears to stem from one of the hadiths, where the angel Gabriel was alleged to have said: “We angels do not enter a home in which there is a dog or a picture”.
When I spoke to Muslim reformer Asra Nomani she told me three of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence say that Muslims cannot have dogs as pets.
“Anyone who is a dog lover knows how wrong that is” says Nomani. “It’s just so unbelievably cruel to the beauty of dogs as pets”.
“Children all across America, Muslim families have this difficult conversation with their parents begging them to get the puppy that every kid wants and being told “oh no, we’re not allowed to in Islam”.
In an act of ant-theocratic defiance, which Asra terms ‘My Muslim reform’, she decided to become a dog owner in her adulthood so that her young son would not miss out on such a rewarding experience.
I’m surprised these reports of discrimination against the disabled have been mostly confined to local newspapers. In this current post-Brexit climate, the mainstream media are quick to jump on the merest whiff of anti-Muslim sentiment. It would seem prejudice at the hands of Muslims doesn’t generate quite the same appetite however.
It may be worth asking the taxi company in question what assurances they can provide going forward, and whether they will be dispensing with any drivers that are unfit to do their jobs.
UPDATE – 3 July 2016
The following Facebook statement from ADT taxis has come to my attention (UPDATE 18 Nov 2016 – Now deleted, screenshot below instead):
In terms of appropriate responses, I don’t think you can fault the clarity and action taken by the company here. If I’m ever in need of a taxi in the Leicester area, I’ll be sure to give them my custom. Hats off for the uncompromising response.