Muslim cabbie sues St. Louis, taxicab commission over clothing rules

St. Louis – A Muslim taxicab driver is suing the city of St. Louis, the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission and a private security company, saying he has been harassed and arrested because he insists on wearing religious garb.

Raja Awais Naeem, who works for Harris Cab and manages a shuttle service called A-1 Shuttle, says his religious beliefs require him to wear modest, loose-fitting clothing and a hat called a kufi. But that garb has run afoul of the taxicab commission’s dress code for cabbies, Naeem claims in the suit filed Thursday morning in St. Louis Circuit Court.

Naeem, originally from Pakistan but now a U.S. citizen living in St. Louis County, said he has been told he must adhere to the commission’s rules requiring a white shirt, black pants and no kufi. Baseball caps are allowed, as long as they have no logo other than the taxi certificate holder.

He claims he has been harassed and had his taxi license suspended when he continued wearing clothing he says is required by Islam, including the kufi, a loose shirt called a kurta and loose-fitting pants called shalwar. Naeem said the clothing maintains modesty by concealing the figure.

Representatives of the city, the taxicab commission and Whelan either could not be reached for comment or declined to comment on the suit.

In his lawsuit, Naeem says he was written a citation by a Whelan Security guard in June 2011 for wearing “foreign country religious dress.” Other times he had his taxi license suspended or was told he would be arrested for trespassing if he worked in his religious clothing, he said.

He said he tried to seek approval from the taxicab commission to wear his religious dress, providing the commission an affidavit in October about the importance of the clothing he wears.

Naeem says he filed complaints with the Human Rights Commission of Missouri, which issued him right-to-sue letters on each complaint.

His suit seeks an injunction to allow religious dress for cabdrivers and civil damages including attorney’s fees and other costs.

 

St. Louis Post-Dispatches: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/muslim-cabbie-sues-st-louis-taxicab-commission-over-clothing-rules/article_5e88f07f-7c5e-5a89-85b6-fb4f67bb451d.html

Richard Dawkins, ‘Islamophobia’ and the atheist movement

This piece does not argue whether ‘Islamophobia’ is a valid term, but how atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have been confused, inconsistent and blundering in their attempts to talk about Muslims. Sam Harris’ writings last month contained a retrospective clanger that very few people picked up on. In a recent article Harris attempted to deconstruct the idea of Islamophobia:

 

“[Islamophobia] is, an ‘irrational’ and ‘disproportionate’ and ‘unjustified’ focus on Muslims. But the only way that Muslims can reasonably be said to exist as a group is in terms of their adherence to the doctrine of Islam. There is no race of Muslims. They are not united by any physical traits or a diaspora. […] The only thing that defines the class of All Muslims – and the only thing that could make this group the possible target of anyone’s “irrational” fear, “disproportionate” focus, or “unjustified” criticism – is their adherence to a set of beliefs and the behaviours that these beliefs inspire. So ‘Islamophobia’ must be – it really can only be—an irrational, disproportionate, and unjustified fear of certain people, regardless of their ethnicity or any other accidental trait, because of what they believe and to the degree to which they believe it.”

 

Sam Harris who wrote in defense of profiling barely a year ago, an article in which he suggested: “We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.” In response to an avalanche of criticism, he elaborated further: “To say that ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, dress, traveling companions, behaviour in the terminal, and other outward appearances offer no indication of a person’s beliefs or terrorist potential is either quite crazy or totally dishonest.” The author makes a point of showing the irony of this in that Muslims are the most racially diverse religious group in America.

 

Whatever you choose to call this phenomenon, it’s clear that there’s a line between criticism (and/or ridicule) of Islam, and bigotry against Muslims. Yet as the author describes, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have blundered into that line with an alarming degree of recklessness. None of that alters the point that inflammatory, irrational and blundering attacks by privileged white male atheists against Muslims of all stripes achieve little more than book sales.

Harris Poll Suggests French Blame Immigrants for Integration Failure

April 20, 2011

Two-thirds of French people see the integration of immigrants into France as a failure and most believe the fault lies with the immigrants, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday. In the poll by Harris Interactive, published in the daily Le Parisien, 66% of respondents said immigrants had adapted badly to life in France and just over half felt the situation had worsened in the past ten years.
More than three quarters of the sample group said immigrants had not made enough of an effort to adapt to French society, according to the poll, carried out between April 8-10 among 1,631 people from all political backgrounds. Anxiety about immigrants in general and Muslims in particular has featured prominently in early campaigning for the 2012 presidential election in France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at five to six million according to the Interior Ministry.

Attitudes Toward Muslims Mixed in Europe and the U.S.

“A new Financial Times/Harris Poll of cross sections of adults in the five largest European countries and the United States looks at attitudes toward Muslims and finds differing opinions on Muslims as a threat to national security, prejudice towards Muslims and whether parents would object to a child marrying a Muslim.

When it comes to Muslims as a threat to national security, the British are the most wary as 38 percent say the presence of Muslims in their country is a threat, followed by 30 percent of Italians and 28 percent of Germans who believe the same. Approximately one in five French (20%), American (21%) and Spanish (23%) adults also say the presence of Muslims in their respective countries is a threat to national security. With the exception of Spain and Great Britain, where large pluralities say the presence of Muslims does present a threat to national security, majorities of adults in the other four countries say they do not present a threat.

These are some of the results of a Financial Times/Harris Poll conducted online by Harris Interactive® among a total of 6,398 adults aged 16 to 64 within France; Germany, Great Britain, Spain, the United States, and adults aged 18 to 64 in Italy, between August 1 and 13, 2007.

A summary of the report can be found here.