Saturday, October 07, 2006

Muslim cabbies refusing the blind and drinkers | NEWS.com.au

Muslim cabbies refusing the blind and drinkers | NEWS.com.au

MUSLIM taxi drivers are refusing to carry blind passengers with their guide dogs or anyone carrying alcohol.

At least 20 dog-aided blind people have lodged discrimination complaints with the Victorian Taxi Directorate. Dozens more have voiced their anger. And there have been several complaints that drivers refuse to allow passengers to carry sealed bottles of alcohol.

Victorian Taxi Association spokesman Neil Sach said the association had appealed to the mufti of Melbourne to give religious approval for Muslim cabbies to carry guide dogs.

One Muslim driver, Imran, said yesterday the guide dog issue was difficult for him. “I don’t refuse to take people, but it’s hard for me because my religion tells me I should not go near dogs,” he said.

There are about 2000 Muslims among drivers of Melbourne’s 10,000 taxis. Many are from countries with strict Islamic teachings about “unclean” dogs and the evils of alcohol.

Drivers who refused to carry blind people with their dogs attended remedial classes at Guide Dogs Victoria, Mr Sach said. “They are taught why blind people need dogs,” Mr Sach said. “The Victorian Taxi Association has included a program in their taxi driver training program.”

Guide Dogs Victoria spokeswoman Holly Marquette said blind people regularly reported taxi drivers refusing to carry them because of their dogs.

But if people started refusing to get in taxis driven by Muslims, that would be racist.

No comments: