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

Islamic group urges sobriety – and invests in bar chain

An Islamic organisation that has argued sobriety is an “obligation on Muslims” and a “revolutionary duty” has invested in a bar chain offering £1 “shooters’” and £3 cocktails.

 

Accounts filed by the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s charitable trust in 2009 listed as an investment the Baa Bar Group, a Liverpool-based company with eight locations across the North of England, worth £38,250. Accounts for the year ending 30 June 2012 showed continued investment in the chain, which on its website encourages customers to “follow their own deepest of animal instincts”. The message couldn’t be more different from the IHRC’s own publications. Among these is Quest For Unity by Imam Achmad Cassiem. The report says: “The greatest underminer and saboteur of discipline and confidence is alcohol and so-called social drinking.” It goes on to claim that the “oppressor” is “making enormous profits from liquor” and urges Muslims to refrain from producing, distributing and consuming alcohol.

 

The IHRC did not respond to invitations for a response and The Baa Bar Group declined to comment. However Jacob Campbell, research director for Stand for Peace, an interfaith organisation that campaigns against extremism, is quoted as saying: “Although bizarre on the face of it, it actually isn’t all that surprising. Islamist groups tend to take the view that the ends invariably justify the means… Better by far to become morally bankrupt than financially so.”.

Muslim group holds vigil outside of the outside the embassy of Myanmar in London

24 July 2012

Islamic Human Rights Commission, a London based NGO held a vigil outside of the outside the embassy of Myanmar in London to mark the International Day of Solidarity for the Rohingyas. On-going persecution of Muslims Rohingyas have angered Muslim groups around the world and led them to take actions against Myanmar.

Edmonton imam thanks supporters after being released from Saudi jail

News Agencies – November 1, 2011

A Canadian imam who was arrested by religious police while on a pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian city of Medina thanked the Islamic Human Rights Commission, the Canadian media and his supporters across the country for their efforts in ensuring his release. Edmonton-based imam Usama Al-Atar said he felt “deeply relieved” and “very grateful” to be reunited with his friends after spending 36 hours in a Medina city jail, according to a statement he issued on behalf of the IHRC, a U.K.-based organization that spearheaded an urgent appeal effort that brought international attention to his case.

He said the detainment facility he stayed in was “horrid” but didn’t elaborate on the specific conditions. He said that because he was staying in Saudi Arabia for two more weeks to complete his pilgrimage, it would not be “sensible nor wise” of him to speak to the media about his experience with Saudi authorities.

Al-Atar, a prominent Islamic scholar and post-doctoral fellow at the University of Alberta chemistry department, was leading 10 pilgrims in prayer at a religious burial site in Medina when a group of Saudi religious police began to harass the group, according to witnesses, including Hayward. The religious police first asked Al-Atar to lower his voice and then asked the group to leave the cemetery, witnesses said. The police then accused Al-Atar of being a thief before restraining him, Hayward said Sunday. Eventually one of the religious police officers pushed Al-Atar into a small kiosk area where he reportedly struggled to breathe.

Equality and Human Rights Commission Report No. 72: The Impact of Counter Terrorism Measures on Muslim Communities

This independent, qualitative research looks at the impact of counter terror measures on Muslims in Britain, and if this was different from other people. It examines the diverse experiences of Muslims on the street and in the community, at ports and airports, and in mosques, schools and universities, as a result of counter terrorism measures.

Muslims in Manitoba request exemption from physical education classes

News Agencies – February 5, 2011

A dozen Muslim families who recently arrived in Canada have told Winnipeg’s Louis Riel School Division that they want their children excused from compulsory elementary school music and co-ed physical education programs for religious and cultural reasons. “This is one of our realities in Manitoba now, as a result of immigration,” said superintendent Terry Borys. “We were faced with some families who were really adamant about this. Music was not part of the cultural reality.”
The families accept physical education, as long as the boys and girls have separate classes, but do not want their children exposed to singing or the playing musical instruments, Borys said. The division has suggested they could instead do a writing project to satisfy the music requirements of the arts curriculum.
However, a local Muslim leader says there is no reason for young kids to be held out of music or phys-ed classes based on religious and cultural grounds.
Borys said that there had been one or two requests for kids to be excused previously, but this year a dozen families came forward at six schools. Borys said that school division contacted a member of the Islamic community whom the parents suggested, consulted the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and looked at what other jurisdictions are doing about accommodation, particularly Ontario.

Canadian Bombardier Fined for Discrimination

News Agencies – December 8, 2010

Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. will pay $319,000 CAD in damages to a Canadian of Pakistani origin after he was denied pilot training because he had been identified as a “threat to aviation or national security” by U.S. authorities. The Quebec Human Rights Commission announced details of the recent ruling by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal in favour of Javed Latif.
Latif was denied training under Canadian licence by Bombardier in 2004 because he had been identified as a “threat to aviation or national security” by U.S. authorities. The penalty was for material, moral and punitive damages. A $50,000 assessment for punitive damages is the highest amount ever awarded by the tribunal.
The tribunal found that Latif had been discriminated against based on his ethnic and national origin and that his right to the safeguard of his dignity had been compromised.”The ruling by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal is without precedent,” commission president Gaetan Cousineau said in a release.

British Colombia’s Rights Commission Rejects Muslim Complaint about Magazine Article

The Human Rights Commission in the province of British Colombia has rejected a human rights complaint against Maclean’s magazine that claimed an article about Islam violated anti-hate laws. The commission found that an October 2006 article by Mark Steyn, The Future Belongs to Islam, did not violate such nor raise hatred against Muslims. It is the third dismissal by a human rights commission in Canada, all of which have responded to complaints by members of the Canadian Islamic Congress. The article is an excerpt from Steyn’s book America Alone, and discusses the global ambitions of a growing number of Muslim youth, and suggests that the West lacks the will to rebuff those who would supplant it.

Rights Panel Rights Action Against Maclean’s Magazine

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a complaint against Maclean’s weekly news magazine over a controversial article on the future of Islam. The Canadian Islamic Council launched a dual complaint of Islamophobia to the Canadian Commission as well as the provincial British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal over a article, The Future Belongs to Islam, written by Mark Steyn, appearing in October 2006. The decision by the B.C. Human Rights commission is not expected for several months.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission Acknowledges Islamophobic Content in Maclean’s Articles

Canadian law students Muneeza, Sheikh, Naseem Mithoowani, Khurrum Awan and Ali Ahmed, and CIC (Canadian Islamic Congress) president, Dr. Mohamed Elmasry both filed complaints to the Ontario Human Rights Commission about an article, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” (an except from Mark Steyn’s American Alone: THE End of the World as We Know It) appearing in Maclean’s Magazine, a weekly current affairs publication, in October 2006. The article suggested that Muslims pose a threat to North American life. While the Commission stated that this “media coverage has been identified as contributing to Islamophobia and promoting societal intolerance towards Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Canadians,” it announced that it will not proceed with legal action. In Ontario, magazines are not covered under the Human Rights Code. Related complaints against Maclean’s have been filed with the British Columbia and Federal Human Rights Commissions. Its code covers publications. Hearings have been scheduled before the BC Commission from June 2-6, 2008 under s. 7(1) of the BC Human Rights Code, which prohibits publications that subject identifiable communities to hate. The Federal Commission is currently in the process of investigating similar complaints.