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January 8, 2007
Muslim Taxi Showdown In Twin Cities

The showdown between Muslim taxi-drivers and their passengers gets more out-of-state attention this morning from the New York Sun's Youssef Ibrahim. The refusal of a large number of Islamic cabbies to transport passengers with alcohol in their luggage or service dogs for the blind and handicapped, and the local fatwa on which they rely for their position, has led to a showdown with the Metropolitan Airport Commission:

At a meeting Wednesday of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), airport staff members asked the commission to give the go-ahead for public hearings on a tougher policy that would suspend the licenses of drivers who refuse service for any reason other than safety concerns.

Drivers who refuse to accept passengers transporting alcohol or service dogs would have their airport licenses suspended 30 days for the first offense and revoked two years for the second offense, according to a proposed taxi ordinance revision. ...

But Hassan Mohamud, imam at Al-Taqwa Mosque of St. Paul, and director of the Islamic Law Institute at the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, one of the largest Islamic organizations in the state, said that asking Muslims to transport alcohol "is a violation of their faith" as well as of the spirit of the First Amendment.

Mohamud, an attorney who teaches Islamic law at William Mitchell Law School in St. Paul, said, "Muslims do not consume, carry, sell or buy alcohol." Islam also considers the saliva of dogs to be unclean, he said.

Mohamud said he would ask airport officials to reconsider, adding that he hoped that a compromise could be worked out that would serve as a bridge between the American legal system and the cultural and religious values of the immigrants.

Ibrahim wants nothing of this supposed compromise:

It is not possible to massage this into further outrage, but there is plenty of need to wonder about wider meanings and consequences, not to mention why such a situation was allowed to drag on with no decisive action to date.

Even if one could dismiss such shenanigans as a humorous episode that escaped nationwide attention until recently and will soon go away, what of the next challenge?

What if Islamic drivers deny the right of transportation to women wearing short skirts, robed priests and rabbis, or homosexual couples, as indeed has happened in Minneapolis?

And what to do should conductors, pilots, and stewards on trains and planes insist they should not transport unveiled women or serve alcohol. How far off is the day when emboldened imams in neighborhoods where American Muslims are in the majority, such Dearborn, Mich., demand the broadcasting of the calls to prayer over loudspeakers at dawn and at other times.

Ibrahim has the right perspective on this issue. The Muslims who relocated to Minneapolis did not get forced into the position of driving cabs, a dangerous task at times as I can personally attest (I briefly drove a cab in Orange County, California eighteen years ago). They chose the job on their own, and by all accounts, have done rather well through their hard work. Part of the responsibility of taking those jobs is to follow the laws that apply to them, and free access to service dogs and people without prejudice are chief among those laws.

This fatwa, issued by the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim Society, exists as an attempt to foist Islam onto Americans who have not chosen it. It will not end with service dogs and alcohol; as Ibrahim notes, it has already gone beyond both. They will eventually refuse service to vast swaths of the traveling public, which will render MSP's cabstands a huge bottleneck for those who must use the airport.

It also goes beyond the airport cabs, as the First Mate discovered on more than one occasion where she used taxis for normal travel when she still used Cory as her guide dog. She had to threaten one cabdriver with a complaint to get him to allow the dog, and on other occasions had to explain the open access laws for service dogs in America.

Why have we heard so few complaints about this attempt to impose Islam on cab customers? Because of oversensitivity to multicultural issues. The MSA and its apologists want us to consider the religious and cultural sensitivities of the cabdrivers, but again, no one forced them to take jobs where they could come in contact with people who have service dogs or bottles of wine. Should a restaurant end its alcohol sales if it hires a Muslim waiter? Should supermarkets ban service dogs if it hires a Muslim cashier? No. It is the responsibility of the immigrant to assimilate into our culture and to obey our laws, not the other way around.

Most immigrants already know this. Most Muslim immigrants, I'd wager, believe it. It's organizations like the Muslim Society of America that insists on silly edicts and their weak-minded followers that cause all of the problem, and it's the failure of Americans to insist on assimilation that perpetuates it.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 8, 2007 6:28 AM

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